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Lessons I’ve Learned from the Jedi, or “What Would Jedi Do?”

Lessons I’ve Learned from the Jedi, or “What Would Jedi Do?”

Modern Jedi

For over a thousand generations, the Jedi knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic….” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

There are a great many quotes throughout the entire Star Wars saga that refer to the role that the Jedi played in the galaxy.  Many have discussed the failings of the Jedi Order, but, with the exception of the hardcore Sith among us, most people agree that the Jedi had the best intentions.  Though it was a long time ago, and that galaxy is far, far away indeed, we can learn much from the Jedi and apply the best aspects of their Order to our daily modern lives.

My own interest in the Jedi path is largely due to my military career.  The Naval service is responsible for my college education, and I have served as a U.S. Marine for the past sixteen years – ten active, six Reserve (two of them mobilized to active duty).  I had two combat deployments to Iraq during which I learned a great deal about myself and human nature.  To be honest, I have seen and participated in events that I’d prefer that my son not ever have to do.  Though some of them were quite distasteful, they all shaped me into who I am today.  I discovered that when under enemy fire, dealing with highly charged issues, or even experiencing the death of my own friends and Marines, I possess the ability to detach as necessary to complete the mission at hand.  The more of the Legends books I read, and the more I studied the Jedi Order, the more I realized that I was on the Jedi path.

I am not a religious man, though I do respect others’ beliefs a great deal (as I should, since I myself follow a path that George Lucas dreamed up to make a good movie).  The Creator did not intend the fictional Jedi Order to be a religion, but he did imbue them with many of the characteristics of Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Judaism, and Native American culture.  I shall not go into detail on these specific aspects because I am by no means an authority and do not want to misrepresent them.  However, I do value the spiritual aspects and many of their behavioral guidelines.

The Jedi chose not to hate, fear, or be angry.  They sought to make decisions while calm & at peace.  They accepted events as they happened, not as they wished them to happen.  They were lifelong learners.  They were physically active and took great care of their bodies.  For those of us not living in the galaxy far, far away, these traits continue to be useful for our health and our daily interactions with others, both personally and professionally.  While we cannot use the Force as Lucas imagined it, we have opportunities every day to carry positive energy with us and project it to others.  Exercising mindfulness, we can monitor our expressions, body language, word choice, and tone when interacting with others.  We can make the conscious choice to be friendly to strangers, lift one another up rather than keep one another down, and serve as positive role models for others to emulate.  We can exercise, eat well, and avoid excess.  We can train in the martial arts.  Believe it or not, we may also apply the Jedi way to parenting.  That, however, will be the subject of a future blog post.

The iconic image of a Jedi is a stoic, powerful being armed with a lightsaber.  Despite their constant quest for peace and their renowned skills as negotiators, the Jedi also knew that there was a time and place for the use of physical force.  For my entire adult life, I have lived and thrived within a subculture of America which is granted legal powers by the government to use violence when diplomacy fails – just as the Jedi were.  I believe, as many people do, that violence is warranted in some situations.  The trick is knowing when that situation is and doing one’s best to avoid getting to that point at all by avoidance, mediation, or compromise, if possible.  In the Expanded Universe (now Legends), there are many tales of Jedi being able to do just that.  Marine Corps General James Mattis exhorted his Marines in Iraq to be “no better friend, no worse enemy,” meaning to be the best possible representatives of society up until the point when violence was warranted, and then to deal with the situation as efficiently as possible.  He also told his forces to “fight with a happy heart and strong spirit,” which I also believe applies well to Jedi.  One can fight without malice, without drifting over to the dark side, and with complete control.  Doing so, a modern Jedi warrior can carry on with a clear conscience.  Bear in mind that there are a great many law enforcement officers and military members who carry this burden daily – to be fair and compassionate, yet willing and able to visit violence on those who would do us harm (credit Orwell).

The mindset to fight only if necessary – but to fight well – can also be developed and practiced in the martial arts.  In addition to my continuing Marine Corps training, I choose to train in the Israeli unarmed combat techniques of Krav Maga.  I am pleased that I have been selected for training as an assistant instructor; I feel that this will put me in an even better position to influence my training partners to stay mindful and follow the Jedi path (though I may not phrase it as such).

Literal warriors or not, we can ALL add a bit of the Force and the teachings of the Jedi into our profane world.  The Jedi way is complementary to most of the religions, as well.  I’m interested to know if anyone else follows this path, and if so, how.  Please reply below and let me know about your Jedi lifestyle. Until next time, may the Force be with you, and remember – this IS the podcast you’re looking for!

Contact me at MediocreJedi@coffeewithkenobi.com and on Twitter at @MediocreJedi.

For more information on this subject, you might be interested in the following books:

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11 Comments

  1. Timothy Carlson
    May 14, 2015 at 08:42 Reply

    Excellent thoughts! When I was an LEO, I was always considered myself to be one who must uphold the Constitution and by extension rights to others. But I learned despite my best intentions, there are others who only understand “the hard way.” I only had to use force once in a situation that I wouldn’t have expected to, but due to training and awareness, handled the situation fine. Most other times I was able to use The Force and persuade my “customers” that they don’t really want to do what they’re thinking. Walk the way of the peaceful warrior.

    1. Dave
      May 14, 2015 at 16:06 Reply

      I agree completely, Tim! There’s another great James Mattis quote that starts with “I come in peace…” that’s along those lines.

      Thanks for your LE work and comments. I surely appreciate it.

      MTFBWY!

  2. Tim Riecker
    May 14, 2015 at 20:25 Reply

    Dave,
    Thanks for your insight on this as well as the reading references. I certainly imagine that a war time deployment will change a person – sometime for better, sometime for worse, but always through the suffering and sacrifice of others, and perhaps even oneself. Having worked in public safety for twenty years, I feel that I can relate to some degree. Thank you for your service and your own sacrifices. I’m glad that, despite some negative experiences, your time there brought you more insight of yourself and the greater world around you.

    While I am also not a religious person, I feel as you do about the importance of everyone’s right to practice and believe as they wish, so long as they are not harming anyone; as well as believing in the importance of having a spiritual connection of some sort for yourself.

    I actually have yet to find my own connection, but have for many years, fueled by my own fandom and desire to examine such things from a philosophical and sociological perspective, have been attracted to the path of the Jedi. Along the way I’ve read such things as The Philosophy of Star Wars, which you listed, and various books on Christianity, Islam, Buddism, etc. Much like politics, I have had difficulty finding a belief that aligns with my own, with the exception of those of the Jedi. On one hand, it seems down right goofy to believe in something made up for a movie, but on the other hand religion and spirituality are a personal experience and choice which don’t necessarily have to match those of organized religions.

    All that said, I admittedly have not committed the time to study, reflect, and practice these beliefs as much as I would like, much less be mindful of them enough to make them a part of my daily being.

    1. Dave
      May 14, 2015 at 22:50 Reply

      Tim (that’s two Tims today!),

      Thanks for your public service. It means a lot! You’ve written quite the response and I wish you well in your journey. It’s truly a personal one. If following the Jedi path makes you feel good and helps you be the best person you can be, i think that’s fantastic. Granted, I’m biased!

      MTFBWY,
      Dave

  3. FrazzledMomma
    May 15, 2015 at 07:25 Reply

    I sit here contemplating your post and thinking about mindfulness. I just learned that a mother of a dear friend of mine has terminal cancer. It reminded me of how in times of sorrow, pain, or fear, we think about the fragility of life and we (well, I do-I can’t speak for others) tend to become more mindful. We then question our past behaviors and set intentions for future ones. But, as time passes, we tend to get caught up in our own lives and fall back in old, comfortable ways. We often forget about those intentions to speak kindly, love unconditionally or make the right effort. Your post is a reminder that being mindful isn’t easy. It is a daily struggle even for the most seasoned Jedi!

    1. Dave
      May 15, 2015 at 15:13 Reply

      FM, I know what you mean! It’s easy to call on the dark side when we’re stressed, tired, in a hurry, etc. As Yoda said, it’s quicker, easier, more seductive. Staying on the path takes effort!

      Your name says so much. Coincidentally, the topic for a future post is parenting and the Jedi path. I do hope you’ll read it and share your thoughts.

      Thank you for your response and MTFBWY!

      Dave

  4. Russ
    May 26, 2015 at 13:43 Reply

    Great blog post. Thank you for your service. Your sacrifice affords me the right to pursue the path in my own way. May your journey be a rewarding one.

    1. Dave
      May 31, 2015 at 15:34 Reply

      Russ, thank you for reading and for your comments. It’s truly my pleasure to serve. MTFBWY!

  5. Melinda
    June 11, 2015 at 09:00 Reply

    Dave, what a beautifully written essay. 🙂 I enjoyed it immensely! (Welcome to the CWK family, by the way! 🙂 ) I know just what you mean about the Jedi, their approach to life and the jobs they had, and how they are wonderful examples for we in the real world to follow. 🙂

    I am a USMC veteran, and would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your service to our country and its citizens. It is a fine line military (and police) walk every day; a difficult one for civilians to totally grasp. May you stay safe.

    I look forward to your future posts!

    MTFBWY 🙂

    1. Dave
      June 13, 2015 at 11:06 Reply

      Thank you, sister Marine! I appreciate your feedback – and your service!

      May the Force be with you!

  6. Jedi Parenting – Raising Mindful Padawans and Younglings | Coffee With Kenobi
    June 14, 2015 at 12:30 Reply

    […] In my last post, I mentioned that characteristics and techniques we see modeled by the Jedi can be applied to modern parenting.  With no children of their own, what can the Jedi of old possibly teach us?  Is it possible to learn this power?  (Chancellor, please don’t answer that!) […]

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