Close your eyes, and play your favorite movie quote in your head. Now, imagine that same quote, only Obi-Wan Kenobi is saying it (and you can choose whichever Obi-Wan actor you’d like, they all work perfectly fine). See how much better it is?
But Obi-Wan’s wry, playful tone is good for much more than enhancing the words of others — that crazy old wizard has plenty of wisdom of his own. Here’s a look at some of the wisdom that defined one of our favorite Jedi Masters:
1. “Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” / “The truth is often what we make of it; you heard what you wanted to hear, believed what you wanted to believe.”
Philosophical and moral principles are not laws of nature. Like John Locke (the philosopher, not the LOST character) said, we’re born tabula rasas — blank slates that, in time, will form a perspective all our own. And that perspective will determine our truths and our beliefs, just like Obi-Wan said. After all, if Anakin could go down a path that led him to think Palpatine was the good guy, any perspective is possible. So be careful what you believe.
2. “Be mindful of your thoughts, Anakin, they betray you.”
Focus. It’s a core tenet of the Jedi training. But this statement is more than Obi-Wan waxing all yogi “be here now,” because there’s something to be said, also, of stripping yourself of preconceived notions. Experience a situation for what it is, Obi-Wan would caution; not for what you expect it to be.
3. “So uncivilized.”
Life throws us a lot of curveballs, and sometimes we find ourselves having to defeat a four-armed alien cyborg with nothing but our wits and a blaster. That doesn’t mean we have to totally reduce ourselves to a level beneath us. Sure, Obi-Wan had to fire a rifle into Grievous’s heart to finally take him down, but he took no pleasure in doing so. Like everything Obi-Wan did, he did it with class.
4. “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”
Yes, this statement draws a lot of heat because it is, in itself, an absolute. But let’s think about the distinction between what Obi-Wan said and Anakin saying, “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.” Now, that is an absolute; it’s a statement that slices all the complexities out of relationships and principles, leaving nothing but a binary choice. All or nothing. And only someone who respects nuance and thoughtful consideration of, well, anything would never throw down such a dangerous gauntlet.
5. “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”
Obi-Wan was no fool, and there’s something to be said about believing in the power of ceding your own existence so the next generation can thrive. Obi-Wan knew his time had passed — something Anakin never could grasp — and that his true power was in helping Luke achieve his destiny. That time comes for us all, where we have to step aside and allow others to claim the world. As usual with Obi-Wan, he did it with unparalleled grace.
6. “I have the high ground.”
Bombshell time. This quote? It’s a metaphor. Yes, when Obi-Wan warned Anakin not to attack him because he had the strategic advantage, he was on higher ground. But Obi-Wan also owned the moral higher ground, having stuck to his code as a Jedi and a defender of peace and liberty throughout the galaxy, where Anakin lost all those things in his lust for power and need to quell his own fears. Point being: Strategic high grounds are good, but moral ones are just as important.
7. “Use the Force, Luke.”
One of the most iconic quotes in all of Star Wars history. The world calls to all of us: Trust in yourself; believe in yourself.
8. “If you define yourself by the power to take life, the desire to dominate, to possess…then you have nothing.”
In a sense, this encapsulates everything Obi-Wan stood for: He was selfless and kind, and though it looked like he had nothing — from Maul’s twisted perspective, Obi-Wan was just a rat in the desert — Obi-Wan had more than any of his enemies could ever hope for: a noble purpose. He wasn’t fueled by revenge like Maul or driven by rage like Vader. There were a number of opportunities were Obi-Wan could have succumbed to such temptations, but he, as he tells Maul, rose above that darkness. His dignity, his principles, his focus, all those qualities made Obi-Wan not only one of the greatest characters of the Star Wars story, but also one of the greatest heroes.
What’s your favorite Obi-Wan quote? Let us know in the comments below!
Michael Moreci is a comics writer and novelist best known for his sci-fi trilogy Roche Limit. His debut novel, Black Star Renegades, is set to be released in January 2018. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelMoreci.