Obi Wan Kenobi – Mentor, Warrior, Friend

Obi-Wan Kenobi was a liar.

At least that’s how many people mockingly refer to him, at least Star Wars community.

Because let’s face it, Obi Wan isn’t exactly the most straight up, stalwart picture of angelic honesty you’ve ever heard of.

Old Ben may be stretching the truth there, just a bit. However, I can’t really fault him for this.

Despite his questionable honesty I really do think that Obi-Wan was Luke’s greatest friend.

When you think about it, Obi-Wan Kenobi sacrificed the most of anyone in the galaxy for Luke Skywalker, He gave the ultimate sacrifice and died to protect Luke and from his friends from Vader. (I think there’s definitely an allegorical subtext that can be drawn from Christ’s death and resurrection but I won’t go into that fully here.)

Obi-Wan is a great friend can be considered many other things, but he was primarily Luke’s mentor or sage.

Obi-Wan Kenobi’s friendship and mentor-ship of Luke really stemmed from his friendship with Luke’s father, Anakin. I think that’s a very key point when we look at the character of Obi-Wan because before he ever interacted with Luke in person, his main role was that of a protector.

When we look for mentors in our own lives, we need to find someone who’s not just wise, we need someone that actually cares. You can’t have one without the other, or it’s simply not a mentoring relationship. We can find plenty of people in our lives that have opinions and advice on how we should live our lives, but unless they show that they have our good at the heart of their intentions, it’s just a lecture without any kind of meaningful interaction.

Obi Wan stayed, stuck on a desert planet, you know, the planet farthest from the bright center of the universe, for 20 years just to protect Luke, That’s commitment. We know that when he talks to Luke, he cares, not in an “I’ll buy your coffee this morning” way, but in an “I will literally lay down my life for you” way.

Obi-Wan’s “so what I told you was true, from a certain point of view” type of moments come from Obi-Wan’s need to protect the Luke Skywalker. To protect and to serve are Obi-Wan Kenobi’s mantra, even going back to his early days. He has and always has been the great protector of the galaxy far far away.

When you think about the philosophy of the Jedi, protection is certainly one of the greatest commandments of the order. I think this idea protection really manifests itself for Obi Wan after the events of Episode III because again, it was his greatest friend that betrayed him. He couldn’t protect Anakin from himself and that left him a failure in that regard. He couldn’t let himself fail again when it came to protecting Luke.

The whole galaxy was going to hell.

Anakin Skywalker had been burned physically, Obi-Wan Kenobi have been burned emotionally (See what I did there?)

I think this is what causes Obi Wan’s need to hide the whole truth from Luke in their initial conversation, to the point where it becomes an almost humorous habit.

Obi-Wan Kenobi was also a mentor in the way he served the Luke as a role model, an idea of what the Jedi Knights could be. As a mentor and as a sage he served as a kind of guiding light for Luke.

As Luke’s mentor, Obi-Wan taught him the value of giving up ordinary and doing something extraordinary. It’s time to go some of making something of yourself. He was the one that told Luke that the empire was not “far away from here”, that they were real things happening in the galaxy, the there were things that Luke, and only Luke, had the capacity to change.

Luke’s potential for greatness was not being tapped and it was time for Luke to move on from Tosche Station and moisture evaporators.

Mentors are all too rare in today’s world. We all could use an Obi-Wan in our life.

Finally, Obi-Wan Kenobi was a warrior. For Luke, he was the only one who had seen things, and  had experienced things that Luke could only dream of. In Obi Wan’s hovel on Tatooine, when the conversation goes back and forth about the Clone Wars, Luke has this sense of awe and respect because he understands that Obi Wan must have, not just a basic understanding of what happened back in those days, but vivid memories of an era “before the dark times”.

We’re talking about something that very few people today understand. Very few humans can comprehend what it would be like to actually fight in a war. That’s something that George Lucas really captured in ANH, because of Lukes sense of awe and nearly childish wonderment that’s conveyed in their interaction on Tatooine for the first time.

When I was approximately 13 years old, I was working for my neighbor. For the first time I was able to earn money by raking leaves for the better part of the fall. I remember being paid the handsome sum of $80 to keep my neighbor’s (the Hennesseys) yard clean for two months. This would become when I was first able to buy my own Star Wars toys and the eventual result would be dozens of Lego Star Wars Fighters littering my room, suspended by fishing line to preserve some level of suspension of reality. But I  digress.

One day that fall Mr. Hennessey introduced me to his neighbor, three houses down from mine, Mr. Gene Murphy. Now Mr. Murphy was a veteran of the US Air Force. He served in the military during both the Vietnam, and the Cold War. He was a military man through and through. He got up at 4 o’clock every morning and went to bed at about 8 o’clock every night.

I worked over at Mr. Murphy’s yard on and off for probably 7 to 8 years of my life. Although I hadn’t even seen a Star Wars movie yet, at this point, Mr. Murphy was quickly becoming a mentor to me in the very same with Obi-Wan was a mentor for Luke. He had an understanding of the world that came before my time.

He had fought in wars that I’ve only heard of in history books and conversations about the seemingly distant past. I have never been able to experience what the culture was like  during1950s and 60s and 70s. for the first time I heard a man describe to me what America was like before 9/11, and it’s a world that to this day, I can still barely imagine what it was like.

Because people like me, who were born in my 1990s and beyond have no concept of what the world was like in those days. We can only read the history books in school and try to memorize small factoids about what date this happened or who was named after what.

It was partially Mr. Murphy who began my fascination with history when he would tell me about these seemingly ancient wars like the Korean War and even WWII and Vietnam. He changed the way I thought of these wars.

Why? Because I was experiencing them through the first person narrative of my neighbor and employer. It was a totally different experience than reading from history book, and in the same way, Luke Skywalker’s only concept of the galaxy was framed around is very small world but he’s grown up in.

He wants to go to Tosche Station and pick up some power-converters.

Little does Luke Skywalker know, he has a new friend, a new friend who would protect him at all costs, mentor him, and teach him the ways of the Force. (And maybe stretch the truth little)

Obi Wan Kenobi was a not so much a liar, but mentor, warrior, and friend.

In many ways Mr. Murphy was my Obi-Wan. He passed away this past Fall and was laid to rest in Spring City Memorial Gardens in October.

So I’ll leave you with a question. Who’s Your Obi Wan? I’d love to hear your response in the comments below.

-Riley