It’s May the Fourth, so we’re hopping onboard our X-wings and following the Millennium Falcon to a galaxy far far away and gazing at how some of the values of our favourite Rebels are worth adopting to develop your social work practice. Let’s be clear though, we are not advocating grabbing a blaster and starting a revolution. Social work does not need inter-galactical violence. However, you can’t deny that the ideals of the Jedi resonate greatly with good practice.
Naturally, today we will not be joining the Dark Side of the Force, as the Light Side upholds a more morally suitable set of standards and practices. As I’m sure Darth Vader or Kylo Ren will tell you, joining the Dark Side brings a great sense of internal turmoil and conflict; while those fighting for good possess a sense of calm and serenity. As Jedi Master Yoda once said: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.”
Therefore, we’re going to take a look at some of the key characteristics of a good Jedi, examine how different characters showcase the value of these traits and understand how they could apply to a social worker.
A Jedi is loyal to the both the Force and to the Jedi community. If loyalties become divided, then they are not able to use the Force to the best of their abilities and will be unable to ultimately control their own destiny. No-one shows loyalty like a Star Wars best friend, whether it’s an R2 Unit or a cheerful Ewok, but there is one who goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to loyalty. It is of course everyone’s favourite walking carpet, Chewbacca. Standing by fellow smuggler Han Solo and his inter-galactic endeavours, whether he’s being double crossed by space gangster Jabba the Hut, or in a galactic dogfight against the Imperial Empire, Chewie is a proven example of how even the most unlikely of tasks can be accomplished if you believe and trust in your team, and continuously show that you are there for each other. Practitioners are at their best when they show loyalty to their fellow social workers, their own practice and the overall community of social work. Loyalty is needed when times are tough, something which social workers experience all too frequently, and can help bring your practice to the very best it can be.
Beloved by generations, it was not Princess Leia’s looks that made her a valued member of the Rebel Alliance; it was her courage and determination. She defends her people under torture, imprisonment and worse, all against terrible odds, showing bravery and commitment to the cause. While social workers aren’t at risk of being killed by a lightsaber wielding maniac on a regular basis, our profession does need a level of courage. We need to understand that the situations we enter into may not always be physically and psychologically easy or even safe for both us and the people we work with. Practitioners therefore need to recognise these risks and find a way to still face every challenge with the same strength. Princess Leia is an inspiration to the Rebel Alliance and Star Wars fans globally, facing life threatening situations and having to take galaxy-changing decisions with a calm head and an enviable sense of humour.
“Someone has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, fly boy.”
Many characters show the need for discipline throughout the Saga, but Luke Skywalker trains for almost two-thirds of The Empire Strikes Back, so he’s a key example. Spending weeks in a swamp on Degobah, under the guidance of Master Yoda, he emerges demonstrating powers and capabilities unseen in a Jedi since the fall of the Republic. His character is proof that inherent talent is only a small factor, but true skill comes from practice – a lesson he personifies by later opening a school for children gifted with the force. His discipline and commitment to the Light side of the Force set him apart and allow him to become one of the strongest rebels around.
“I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”
One of our more modern Star Wars heroes shows us the value in a determined spirit: Poe Dameron. While he may not be a Jedi Knight himself, and instead our new resident rule-breaker and headstrong pilot, Poe’s determination is representative of the values that come hand in hand with the force. He shows a willingness to do whatever it takes for a cause he believes in and helps lead the new rebels to various different victories, both big and small, proving that having resolution in what you do to do it well. His conviction is admirable and should be adopted by practitioners to ensure good practice. Social workers need a firmness of purpose when they approach every new case, given the complicated nature of what they face every day.
"What do you know, turns out I can fly this thing.”
Rey is the epitome of resilience in the modern Star Wars world. She’s been through an immense level of trials and tribulations as a child and young woman, and every time she’s come through fighting. She’s shown she’s able to endure great misfortunes and not falter with her capabilities or her passion for the good in the world. Social workers need a level of resilience to be able to bounce back after difficult home visits, meetings with vulnerable people or challenging cases. Every day comes with a high level of emotional intensity, therefore a good practitioner will only be able to thrive if they find a way to keep moving forward and pick themselves back up after every setback.
To achieve the rank of Jedi Knight, and Acolade must attain a certain level of knowledge of the Force, and of life. They need to know the ins and outs of the Force so that they can manipulate it for good (or evil if you’re so inclined). It’s clear throughout the Saga that there is a level of intellect, a particular way of thinking, which is needed to be a good Jedi and that resonates greatly with the social work community. Practitioners are a special variety of professionals, viewing the world in a different way to everyone else – just like a Jedi. Grand Master Yoda is the epitome of Jedi wisdom and intellect, and he uses it to give the heroes the necessary guidance and education to succeed. He knows that it is information and clarity that will serve them in their rebellion, not brute force. Likewise, social workers know it is theories, peer support and experience which will ensure they handle a case appropriately.
"Always pass on what you have learned."
Every rebel shows a level of honour in their own way, across every film. Whether it’s Lando Calrissian making amends for betraying Han and Chewbacca, or Finn rebelling against the First Order; our heroes know how to prove a level of integrity. However, one shows a real sense of honour which affects us more than everyone else, given their resistance to the Resistance. I of course mean our very own scruffy nerf herder, Han Solo. An unorthodox symbol of hope, yes, but his actions speak volumes. Despite the tough guy exterior and the impression that he’ll only fight for himself, he proves that he is an honourable man at heart. Whether he’s agreeing to take Luke and Obi-Wan off Tattoine, or appearing unexpectedly to help destroy the Death Star, or conceding defeat when he believes Leia is in love with Luke, Han shows respectable levels of integrity, even if he won’t admit it. He even sacrifices himself to Kylo Ren to prove that his son still had good inside him. Social workers would do well to ensure they have honour in their practice, as this integrity and respect for what they do will allow them to always look for the best solutions for everyone. They’ll inspire fellow practitioners and prove themselves a credit to the profession if they understand that all good practice starts with honour.
"You like me 'cause i'm a scoundrel. You dont have enough scoundrels in your life"
The new instalments of the Star Wars Saga introduced us to many characters who we have come to love, loathe and (unfortunately) lose; but one has stood out for a particular reason. Fin/FN-2187 has earned his place in our hearts for his unwavering faith in not an institution or an ideal, but a person. He places his trust, loyalty and love in Rey, believing in her decisions and following her lead which makes him not only a strong ally for Rey but a reliable Rebel overall. Rey embodies the future of the rebellion, so by having faith in someone who represents leadership and the future to him, Finn develops as an individual and becomes more capable. This is symbolic of the faith in the system and in educators that practitioners need in order to develop their own practice. In order to become more effective professionals, there needs to be a degree of belief in the institution of social work and those who uphold it.
"The Force will be with you always."
By Elena Jones, One Stop Social
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