The Last Jedi: A Lesson in Leadership

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Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers.

For many, The Last Jedi was not the Star Wars movie they were looking for. While critics have raved about it, audiences have reported feeling conflicted and disappointed. The chief focus of criticisms is Luke Skywalker.

The Luke Skywalker people grew up watching was brave, a proper hero. Against all odds he fought against the Empire, destroyed the Death Star, led parts of the rebellion, became a Jedi Knight, and turned his father back to the light side. As kids, many grew up loving him and wanting to be like him. Thirty years after the original trilogy people were excited to finally meet their hero again in a new saga. But when many met Luke, he was no longer the hero of their childhood; he’d become someone else.

As Ryan Stephenson, a senior, majoring in human resources, complained: “I went into the movie expecting Luke to be the transformational leader that he was in [the original trilogy], but ended up watching a complacent and stubborn Retired Jedi.”

The Last Jedi introduces us to a cynical, jaded and discouraged Luke Skywalker. He gave into the thoughts of murdering Ben Solo just long enough to send Ben down his path to the dark side. In pain and shame, he self-exiled himself to a remote planet in other to live out the rest of his days.

When Rey begs him to train her and come back to join the Resistance, he blows her off. He’d given up, on the Jedi, the Resistance and himself. Many fans were not prepared to see their hero like this. They could not believe that it was the same Luke Skywalker, and yet, there they were, watching it happen.

In a way, The Last Jedi revealed a major fear most people have: heroes and leaders are just as fallible as everyone else. Many heroes don’t just make minor mistakes, they fail in horrible ways. In a time when leaders, celebrities, and personal heroes are so commonly wrapped in scandal and controversy it appears that even our most beloved fictional examples are not free from disappointing.

What people can do when their heroes let them down is to see what can be learned from the hero’s mistakes. The cynic might advise that people  should  just give up on having heroes, but most people aren’t so negative.

Among the lessons to be learned is for one  to be patient and forgiving of their heroes and remembering that even they deserve some leeway and room for error.

Another lesson to be learned is to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes the heroes make. It is also crucial that people learn that they can be heroes too, and that being a hero is not a responsibility that should be treated lightly.

People’s actions can affect others dramatically. A commitment should be made by all to be better students, leaders, and better heroes, because if nothing else, Luke Skywalker shows that the world needs heroes now more than ever.