“Empire Day” is probably my favorite episode of Rebels so far. Not only did the storyline, animation, music and attention to detail in that episode knock it out of the park, one particular aspect of that episode continues to play in my head like a Vine on a constant loop:
Ezra: [Sighs] Sorry. I just don’t see the point of this.
Kanan: The point is that you’re not alone. You’re connected to every living thing in the universe. But to discover that, you have to let your guard down. You have to be willing to attach to others.
Ezra: And what if I can’t?
Kanan: If you hang on to your past, if you always try to protect yourself, you’ll never be a Jedi.
Woah…stop. Rewind…Did Kanan just say “You have to be willing to attach to others?” ATTACH?
Attachment has always been a hotbed issue with the Jedi Order, and has been discussed and debated in many forums over the years.
With the era of Jedi that existed prior to Empire Day, attachment was all but forbidden. Passion was forbidden. Love was forbidden. Yet, the Jedi were taught to have compassion and empathy. How can one have either of these if love and attachment does not exist? We are born to love. We are born to interact with others in ways that touch our lives – both good and bad. That’s what makes us human. Without attachment, we are nothing.
Examine The Clone Wars movie: Yoda’s whole purpose for giving Ahsoka to Anakin as a Padawan learner was to make him learn how to sever attachments. How could he sever something that was not supposed to exist in the first place?
It is in the absence of attachment that we are not whole beings. Granted, attachments also make life more complicated, and can sometimes feel like they are ripping your heart out, but I truly believe I am healthier in every way because of them. No one said attachment was easy. Nothing worth having ever is.
One of my favorite attachment quotes comes from the novel Revelation by Karen Traviss. It was said by the Mandalorian warrior and healer Gotab:
“Attachment – and you inevitably use your powers to serve your own family…Avoid attachment – and you become an enactor of ritual, a sterile creature unable to truly understand love and sacrifice.” (Traviss, Revelation p. 403)
The Old Jedi Order was full of contradictions and incongruity concerning basic human nature. I get that it was a discipline. I get that it was supposed to be a practice of mastery, both within and outside of oneself. But to deny attachment? To deny mourning when one experiences loss? Cruel. Let’s quote Yoda:
“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.”
My mom passed away recently. In November. Was I attached to my mom? Ummmm….yes. Does it make me greedy and all dark-side-ish to mourn for her? I think not. As much as I do, in fact, rejoice that she is no longer in pain, being attached to her did not cast some horrible shadow over me. I am moving on, day-by-day, and the mourning will eventually get easier. I will always be attached to her in some way.
THAT’S what I think Kanan was getting at in this episode. We’re all connected in some way: living, dead…it’s what makes us who we are. We NEED to be attached to each other…to the universe. I believe Kanan understood this quote from The Empire Strikes Back better than anyone (also spoken by Yoda):
“For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.”
See, Kanan got it. The Force IS attachment. To BE a Jedi, you must be willing to “let your guard down and attach to others.” To everything.
The new era of Star Wars seems to be all about encouraging attachment. Keeping families together. Forging bonds with others aboard Rebel cruisers…
I like where this is going. Do you?
I would love to hear from you.
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