I just returned from a trip to another system. A cross between murky, moist Dagobah, lush and green Naboo, and a quaint, cobblestoned yet modern and vibrant metropolis unlike any I’ve seen in the Galaxy Far, Far Away, Ireland captured my heart for the seven days I was there and then released it to appreciate my own corner of the world. Being there brought Star Wars to mind.
My ancestors on my father’s side, the ones about whom I have information, hail from Counties Leitrim and Mayo in Ireland. Though I wasn’t able to visit those areas during my brief trip, I was there. In the country where my roots are. In the place my ancestors left to find better lives in the United States. As I listened to tour guides’ tales about the potato famine in the mid-1800’s and the 1916 Easter Rising and read the English side of plaques which were also written in Gaelic, I felt a kinship, a pull, a connection to the stories my very Irish grandmother told me as I grew up. I was aware of the piece of me that belonged there just as I became aware of the whole of me that belongs here in the U.S. I expected to be awed by my trip to my family’s homeland, but I didn’t expect to feel such a strong link to a place I’d never been before.
I believe that family includes more than “just” those who share one’s bloodline, but on this trip, which I took with my daughter, I focused on my blood relatives and the place of our origin. On what it is that binds us. What Force? Irish people have a common look about them that I also didn’t expect, a look that I see in the mirror every day. I also see it on the beautiful face of my daughter. One local gentleman quipped that she, “Looks more Irish than anyone here.” It’s true! She does. A man even stopped us and asked for directions on one of our first days in Dublin.
As much as we loved our time on the Emerald Isle, however, it isn’t the only place where our roots belong. Scotland, Germany, and for my daughter, Poland and England, also hold parts of our past. As Irish as she and I look, I wonder if we would find that same connection to these other countries that we did to Ireland? I find it difficult to believe that anyone would stop and ask us for directions in any of the other countries. When we were in Galway, I had an urge to pick up a handful of Earth and hide it away in my bag to bring a piece of my history with me, a Scarlett O’Hara-esque gesture of my appreciation for the land. I thought of Anakin Skywalker, of his telling Padme that on Tatooine the sand is, “coarse and rough and it gets everywhere.” I doubt Anakin ever had such an urge to carry a pocketful of his home system’s sand around with him. Padme, on the other hand, clearly adored the system of her birth. She didn’t want to escape Naboo; she wanted to find sanctuary there as she desperately fought to create a family with Anakin.
What connects the inhabitants of the GFFA to their home systems, and is that connection relevant in a universe where humanity is such a small part of the whole? Surely each species yearns for the place of its roots, feeling the plight of a diaspora, so far away from collective tradition.
Species are so individualized in Star Wars. We have distinct images of Twi’leks, particularly now in the form of Hera of Star Wars Rebels. There’s Kanan and Ezra, human males from Coruscant and Lothal respectively. Zeb, a Lasat from the Outer Rim world of Lasan. And Sabine, a Mandalorian human female who, I assume, has others in her home world who look much like her (I have to ask fellow CWK blogger Jay Krebs about my assumption about Mandalorians. She is the expert, and I most definitely am not.). Are these characters tied to their species, to their home worlds, to both, to each other? How does it actually work for them? Are humans from different systems more inclined to relate to those who are also from their home worlds, or doesn’t this matter at all in an environment where the inhabitants live and work and play and battle alongside not only different humans from different parts of the same planet but different species from distant worlds? Is it the same as we experience here on Earth, just on a much larger scale, or is it completely different?
As I mentioned, I was struck by the distinct, physical similarities of the Irish people. I don’t know the demographic of Ireland as well as I probably should, but it never occurred to me before this trip that I would find that physical similarity. Probably a small-minded oversight on my part as I think about it. I love that I am able to travel and see other places, but even more fascinating to me are the different people I meet and the ways they live their lives that are different from mine. I learn so much from other people’s ways.
One of the many things I love about Star Wars is its diversity of people and place. Species work alongside each other and do business with each other (often) without consideration of their differences. The Star Wars Rebels team is a great example. But you know what I would love to see? A Spock. A main character who is the product of two different species, a character who grapples with his inherent differences and is stronger for them. I can’t think of a character like this in Star Wars, not a main one anyway (thank you, D).
Hmmmm. Maybe there’s some potential from Kanan and Hera….. (wishful thinking!)
As much as I cherish the opportunity I had to visit Ireland with my second born, whom I miss terribly (she lives 600 miles away), I am happy to be home in Pennsylvania. Time to catch up on Star Wars Rebels.
How would you feel about a Spock-like main character in Star Wars or perhaps to see the offspring of Kanan and Hera?! I’d love to know. And remember…
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