For centuries, humankind has looked to the stars in wonderment and mulled over the same question: is there life in space? Queries like these are what helped launch the genres that eventually led to the production of A New Hope (then, simply, Star Wars), but the possibility of alien life is even more grounded in reality today. The simple assumption is this: with however many infinite galaxies and existences there are, ours simply cannot be the only one that houses life. Unfortunately, in our case, years and mileage spell the same sort of disappointing answer: if there is life out there, the chances of us crossing paths with them or even existing at the same time are impossibly slim.
Of course, Star Wars in an incredible place to look to for alien interaction, because “aliens” are so often a universally-accepted part of the intergalactic culture already. Despite that, warring factions and unexplored outer reaches produce new and exciting life forms that our heroes often find themselves befriending (preferably, at least). With that in mind, perhaps looking to our favorite stories for inspiration is the way to go in this particularly hypothetical situation.
Queen Amidala and the Gungans
In one swift move, Padmé Amidala broke down the seemingly endless tension between her people and Otolla Gungans by doing the one thing: being honest. In a move that showed how truly bold she was, the teenage queen revealed herself to Boss Nass, explained the plight of their shared planet, and offered her forces to his in alliance against their attackers.
Despite anyone’s opinion of Jar Jar Binks, Padmé befriended the Gungan (which continued well and beyond The Phantom Menace) and truly paid attention to not only his mannerisms, but his personal worries, as well. Padmé’s empathy and basic respect for Jar Jar taught her more about his people than her history books ever could have. Her humility and respect was what Boss Nass needed to regard her as a true ruler, and their combined forces won the day for Naboo.
The Jedi and the Twi’lek of Ryloth
The ranks of the Jedi were strongly diverse. While there were certainly Twi’lek among the Jedi, most had left their home planets from a young age, so it’s easy to assume that few of them could truly understand the plight of Ryloth when the Clone Wars began. The Twi’lek were a strong, but guarded people, and gaining their trust meant that the Jedi’s usually secretive methods had to change.
What solidified this alliance were the efforts of Mace Windu, Ima Gun Di (R.I.P., man), and Obi-Wan Kenobi to befriend and gain the respect of freedom fighter Cham Syndulla. Kenobi showed Syndulla a sense of earned respect that only allied combatants can, and never stopped or silenced Syndulla when he spoke of his people’s plight. Setting aside pride for compassion and respecting Syndulla for his unrelenting resolve — along with not trying to pull any funny business on the already suspicious people of Ryloth — is what helped the Jedi in the end.
Yoda and the Wookiees
Along with the people of Ryloth, the Wookiees have been forced to defend their home planet of Kashyyyk countless times. The large, powerful creatures are often painted as vicious killers prone to attack. The Separatists, the Empire, and likely countless others have used this demonization of the Wookiees so that the rest of the galaxy turns its eyes away and ignores the suffering of Wookiee slaves, or the sale of their fur. The towering creatures may be daunting, but it was the recognition of their agency that led to their alliance with Jedi Master Yoda during the Clone Wars.
Yoda personally went to Kashyyyk to meet with Chief Tarfful as Separatist forces descended on the jungle planet. No stranger to the Jedi, Chief Tarfful was a vital part of Ahsoka Tano and Chewbacca’s rescue from the Transdoshans of Wasskah, and a dear friend of Yoda’s. Tarfful’s most favored traits reflected the values of the Wookiees, which included loyalty and trust. Yoda’s quick departure to Kashyyyk exemplified these values, and it’s likely because of this friendship that the Jedi held such an incredible bond with the Wookiees overall.
Princess Leia and the Ewoks
Taking after her mother in ways she wasn’t even aware of at the time, Leia Organa formed a fast friendship with Wicket the Ewok after the two teamed up against a scout trooper on Endor. Once could argue that Leia’s diplomatic training may have helped her with this situation, but that’s hardly the case; her immediate friendship with one of the most outspoken young Ewoks happened because she let her guard down in front of him, then demonstrated her capability.
Like Padmé, Leia paid attention attention to Wicket’s mannerisms, and respected his people in their home — despite protesting when they tried to roast her friends as a sacrifice. Leia’s capability and open opposition to the Empire (along with very helpful translations from C-3PO) opened the Ewoks up to working with the Rebel Alliance, which in turn helped the Rebels infiltrate the Endor base, and ultimately win the day.
While Goldenrod was never truly a political leader, his fluency in over 6 million forms of communication has been a vital asset to his friends and masters. Leia may have helped ally the Ewoks and the Rebels, but it was Threepio’s ability to translate (and the whole misunderstanding about him being a god) that truly solidified their partnership. Threepio has translated for the benefit of many, including slimy crime lords, but the point here is that interpreters — especially those willing to deep-dive into studying alien languages with little to no base in our current reality — would be a vital part of creating and maintaining intergalactic peace. C-3PO’s job title may include “human-cyborg relations,” but it stretches far and beyond that because of his multilingual capabilities, making him a vital asset for all sorts of situations.
The lessons learned in Star Wars about interacting with new or different cultures is one that can easily be carried into everyday life. Being kind, respectful, and empathetic to others can help create a life-long, vital bond between strangers.
Catrina Dennis is a writer and Star Wars die-hard. In her spare time, she tells stories, yells very loudly about soccer, and hosts a few very cool podcasts. Catch up with her on Twitter @ohcatrina.