In Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, when Anakin Skywalker is forbidden by his mother to participate in a pod race to help earn money to help his new friends buy the parts they need for their ship, he says, “The biggest problem in the universe is no one helps each other.” I couldn’t help but wonder if this was also something that posed a problem in our own universe? We often hear inspirational stories of people helping others out of a rough spot … but when was the last time we chose to help strangers, with no reward promised for our actions?
While re-watching the film, I caught on to something that I had never really noticed. While Anakin Skywalker is touted as the focus of the prequels, it’s really Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn who is the focus of Episode 1. His words and actions move the story along, and have great impact on future films. Qui-Gon’s dissatisfaction with the callous state of the universe and, perhaps even the Jedi, defines him.
Qui-Gon was willing to put himself (or others) at risk if it means pursuing the greater good. He saves Jar Jar Binks from imminent death multiple times at the risk of his own life. In fact, saving Jar Jar only would increase his own encounters with death. Still, he didn’t hesitate; it was the right thing to do. This later proves to be beneficial for the main characters later in the story, when Jar Jar helps facilitate peace between the people of Naboo and the Gungans in order to combine forces for a final showdown. Had Qui-Gon left Jar Jar to face the consequences of his own foolishness, they would not have stood a chance.Most importantly, he saw Anakin as a person with value, worthy of love.
Another example is when Qui-Gon befriends young Anakin, a slave who proves to have much potential. He finds himself drawn to him, and does everything in his power to help secure Anakin’s freedom. He goes out of his way to also try to free his mother, but to no avail. Still, serving as a mentor and father-figure for Anakin helps guide him on the path to becoming a Jedi, and setting in stone the great epic that is to come.
Qui-Gon’s actions irritate other Jedi Masters, particularly members of the Jedi Council. Although they are sworn to uphold the law and keep the galaxy safe from evil, they are most often seen sitting in their chamber, and not taking part in anything unless they see a need for their presence. They are passive in how they connect with the world around them. In contrast Qui-Gon is constantly interacts with the people around him and strives to understand them and the world they live in–Qui-Gon seems to learn as much from Anakin and his mother as they learn from him.
What’s even more striking is that we the audience are aware of how Anakin turns out in the future–he becomes Darth Vader, and will murder scores of innocent people, including many Jedi. Even the members of the Jedi Council are afraid of him, and what the future poses for him; they don’t want Anakin to join the Jedi Order. However, Qui-Gon is determined to take him on as a pupil and train him. Why? He saw potential in Anakin that no one else had. He had been a slave, a nobody. Qui-Gon saw more in him—he saw a person that would flourish with the proper guidance. Most importantly, he saw Anakin as a person with value, worthy of love. If no one else would advocate for Anakin, Qui-Gon would.
The verse when Jesus tells his disciples that caring for ‘the least of these’ tells us that ignoring those who cry for help is not an option. When we care for the downtrodden and those that others have turned their backs on, we are caring as if Jesus Himself were there.
Let’s take a page from Qui-Gon Jinn and care for those that might need an extra hand. You never know – your acts of kindness may cause ripples in the universe, and change the lives of those you touch forever.