I teared up during the opening credits of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
As the familiar overture swelled, I looked around the packed theater and was keenly aware that this was a moment of cultural significance.
I thought about all the children who watched the original trilogy, who grew up to see their princess become a general. The children who idolized Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, swinging imaginary lightsabers as the galaxy stretched out before them, full of infinite possibility and adventure.
I thought about how those children grew up to become parents, and now their children look at Rey, Poe, and Finn with the same open-faced awe they once had, that same desire for adventure and heroism. The desire to serve others, to stand up for what’s right, and maybe just save the galaxy in the process.
These epic stories of human triumph are powerful reminders of what we’re capable of at our very best. They inspire us through a sense of higher purpose and belonging. They remind us we're not alone.
This is the importance of stories. This is why they matter.
Star Wars has always been packed with classic literary themes: the mythological hero’s journey, the struggle between good and evil, the quest for universal balance, the conflict between a totalitarian establishment and the idealistic young rebels who railed against their tyranny.
Ultimately, though, it’s a story of hope. Hope that justice will prevail, and the good guys will win when it really matters. Hope that massive, meaningful change is possible. Hope that in the darkest hour, integrity, love, and the indomitable will of the human spirit will make all the difference.
These are themes that unite us through our shared recognition of their fundamental truth. We see ourselves in the struggles of our heroes, and long to see them succeed because it's personal. It connects us. (It’s also why representation is so important, but that topic deserves its own post.)
All things are possible with hope. The same is true of stories. They reveal to us the most profoundly truthful parts of our humanity. They remind us of who we are, and sometimes, of whom we should strive to be.
Stories are, in many ways, not unlike the Force itself. They are everywhere, in everything that we do. They are energy made manifest, a timeless wellspring representing the limitless potential of the human spirit. How you choose to use them is up to you.
Through stories, we stand together in service of something far greater than ourselves.
May the force be with you, always.