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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Young Jedi Knights: The Power of Pain

Star Wars: The Next Generation

In their “Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights” saga, Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta introduce us to Jacen and Jaina, the son and daughter of Han Solo and Leia Organa.  Instead of packing their children off to any old boarding school, Han and Leia send their children to Yavin 4, where Luke Skywalker has established a Jedi Training Academy in the old Massassi Temple the Rebellion once used as a base.  There, Jacen and Jaina will explore their ability to use the Force, as well as make new friends.  The latter will include Tenel Ka from Dathomir (the former homeworld of the Nightsisters) and Lowbacca, a Wookie from Kashyyyk (and Chewbacca’s nephew).

In the first installment, Heirs of the Force, we learn about the twins’ interests.  Jaina has an inherent understanding of machinery and gadgets.  Her room in the ancient temple is filled with spare parts, cyberfuses, circuit loops, gears from dismantled droids, unused power packs, and old control systems from the former Rebel war room.  Nothing delights her more than to tinker with such items.  Jacen, on the other hand, possesses an affinity for living creatures.  Cages and aquariums line the walls of his room.  Inside these live arboreal rodents, purple spiders, whisper-birds, and a nearly transparent Crystal Snake.  As Master Skywalker’s style of instruction tends more toward self-discovery and individual practice rather than a heavy slate of lectures, this gives Jacen plenty of time to scour the jungle for the various fruits, flowers, and insects his pets eat.

On one of their jungle excursions, the twins happen upon a crashed Imperial TIE Fighter.  This doesn’t surprise them.  While most were destroyed in the battle of the original Death Star, some TIE Fighters were shot down and crashed on Yavin 4.  The twins are delighted with their discovery.  Using Jaina’s inherent ability to repair damaged equipment, the two set to work.  They envision using a ship of their own to extend the range of their adventures.

Unfortunately for them, the ship’s former pilot discovers them.  He is a haggard, grizzled man, and his uniform “hangs like rags from his gaunt frame.”  His left arm, injured during the crash, is unusable, but he can still hold a blaster in the other.  He uses this to take the twins prisoner.  When Jaina attempts to use the Force to sooth the man’s mind, she “runs up against a wall of thoughts so rigid, so black and white, so clear-cut, that it seems like droid programming.”  The man refuses to believe that the war between the Empire and the Rebels has been over for twenty years, and keeps repeating his litany, “Surrender is betrayal.”  When she asks his name, he states, “CE3K-1977.”  Under gentle questioning, he finally remembers.  “Qorl.  My name is Qorl.”

All of us have experienced moments of intense pain.  Those who have suffered such pain for days or weeks, until finally finding a way to relieve it, know how pain destabilizes us mentally and emotionally.  The pain controls our thoughts, dominates our consciousness.  Like Qorl, we can only lock our jaws together, focus on suffering through it, and bolster our determination with inspiring examples, helpful litanies, or religious verses. 

Imagine enduring such pain for twenty years.  Imagine pain so intense that you cannot recall your own name.

Of course, it’s not just physical pain, such as that from Qorl’s broken arm, which can slip the blinders over our heads.  Emotional pain caused by depression, the death of a loved one, a fractured relationship, or some other source will similarly shrink our worldview.  Even spiritual pain, feeling cast adrift in an uncaring universe, without an understanding of how we fit in, can cause us to withdraw into ourselves.  Until we find a way to resolve such pain, our lives come to a standstill.  We become less than the people we have been, incapable of attaining the goals we once held dear.

If you find yourself relating to Qorl’s dilemma, I urge you to reach out, to find someone, something, or some group that can provide an end to your suffering.  If you sense some of Qorl’s state of mind in others, urge them to seek help, and provide what aid you can.  For all of us yearn to be like Jacen and Jaina, seeing in each new day an opportunity for discovery and adventure.

No one should have to live like CE3K-1977.  I mean...Qorl.  Yes, his name is Qorl.

In sympathy,
Dragon Dave

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