Imagine a Jedi
“For philosophy doesn’t consist in outward display, but in taking heed to what is needed and being mindful of it” – Musonius Rufus, Lectures 16.75.15-16.
If we existed in the Star Wars Universe we would expect Jedi to be easily identifiable. They may be wearing the dress typical for a Jedi and bear the Jedi Order emblem. A light sabre would likely confirm a Jedi. However a robe, emblem and light saber does not necessarily mean we have a Jedi in our midst. We would need further proof, an example.
How would we imagine a Jedi to be in the absence of their uniform and other usual displays? Most would expect that a Jedi should be identifiable by his or her bearing, behavior and attitudes as well as their outer appearance. I imagine a Jedi would appear to be calm, approachable and confident and demonstrate virtues that are consistent with someone who is a Jedi. That is they would be humble without being self-effacing, polite and courteous, dignified and articulate and patient. They would display objectivity and conviction in their decisions, integrity in their conduct, courage, empathy, self-control, purpose and wit. Jedi would show empathy to others and be generous and helpful where their help was welcome.
Actions not Appearance
So if I call myself a Jedi how should I act? How should I speak to people and conduct my affairs? How should I train myself to think? What virtues should I cultivate within my character and which practices should I undertake to reinforce those virtues? Should I stick to my principles or decide when and where to apply them? How do you imagine a Jedi to be if you met one here in the Real World? Would you be able to identify that person as a Jedi if you met in the street? Would there be a secret signal, a handshake or a “drop word”?
I don’t feel that I need to advertise that I am Jedi. I prefer to act out how I believe a real world Jedi should be and demonstrate my principles consistently to support that. Virtues that I think are important are practiced as if they were a part of my nature and eventually they will be. I don’t need to have a rank of Jedi Knight or Master. Titles, robes and entitlement do not make a Jedi, actions, thoughts and words do.
I am an Alcoholic
As a Drunk I pretended to be someone I was not. I wanted people to think that I was a Big Shot and somehow special. Someone that demanded respect and admiration. Deep down I knew I did not amount to much, that I was mostly full of it and my personality was bravado and a façade. In reality I was miserable and no longer knew who I even was, I only knew that drinking made me feel somehow worthwhile but it was an illusion, a lie.
Getting sober made me realize that I could only ever be myself and strive to be a better version of myself. I threw myself in to the 12 Steps and worked at correcting my faults and being a better person. I realized only one label fitted me and I was comfortable every time I said, “my name is….and I’m an alcoholic”. I felt like I was being the most genuine version of myself that I had been in memory.
I am an alcoholic and I always will be. Do I appear to be an alcoholic? That is, do I have an alcoholic character? I hope I don’t but I will let others be the judge of my character. My part is simply keep my side of the street clear and work the steps and never pick up the first drink. That’s how I can demonstrate my recovery and growth one day at a time.
I am Jedi
I am also Jedi. Not a Jedi Knight or Master or even a Padawan but a person who is Jedi through the set of actions, attitudes and behaviors that are on display every day. Not through outward display and claims to title. I judge myself to be Jedi or not through an honest and rigorous assessment of my conduct. I can call myself a Jedi but my heart will betray the truth if I am being dishonest.
What do you want to be today? How will you demonstrate that?