Ahsoka Tano is a newly beloved character in the Star Wars fandom, someone I (and many others) look up to as a guide and clue to Jedi behavior. But Ahsoka never becomes a Jedi Knight; in fact, she refuses the knighthood offered to her and leaves the Jedi Order altogether. Why?
People have left our real life Jedi community since its inception. Some people feel that it’s not something they are interested in, some people grow in different directions, some people drop out, not wanting to do the work. But some people, good Jedi who work hard and understand the path, leave anyway. Why?
Because the community has not performed it’s basic purpose: to support their path.
The Jedi Path is, fundamentally, a solitary one. We are all striving in our own ways to better ourselves as individuals and better the world within our spheres of influence. But we created this community and came together to pool resources, share knowledge, and lean on each other. If the community is not serving the basic function of being a supportive place where Jedi can give and get a boost on their path, then it has no place on our paths.
When Ahsoka left the Jedi Order, Obi-Wan believed that her emotion had influenced her judgement. Obi-Wan was wrong. Setting aside his presumption that the Jedi Order (and especially the Jedi order of the late Old Republic, as dogmatic and problematic as it was) was the obviously correct path to choose, Ahsoka didn’t leave because she was angry, or betrayed, she left because she was disappointed. She did indeed pass a trial as Master Windu said by clearing her name, but it was her Trial of Insight. The Jedi Order has no longer a place where she could grow in a way that was healthy and happy.
Many of my Jedi siblings that have left the community for similar reasons over the years. Some have been pushed out by the behavior of others. Some have gone looking for support and acceptance and found none. Some have seen Jedi not acting like Jedi and left in anger. Often I see people speaking of the choice to leave the community as a failure of character on the part of the ex-Jedi. Processing that hard moment and that choice is part of that person’s path, but it would be negligent to not look at our own part in the community and see if we are doing our best to make the community a haven for learning, difference, and growth. Sometimes we can change things to make this community a better place, and sometimes it’s just not the right place for a Jedi that we know and love. The key is knowing when to accept that which we cannot change, and when to fight hard for that change anyway.
Last year for the 2016 National Gathering I wrote a workshop that I held with Angelus to help us look at how our community supports us, how it fails us, and what we can do to change that. I’d encourage you to start having that conversation in your own communities, online and off, Jedi and not-Jedi. Ask your fellows: “what do you need to grow and feel supported from me?” and listen to what they have to say. Accept compliments and critique evenly, and look for ways to push your community forward towards greater fellowship and understanding.
If you’d like to take a look at the syllabus for that workshop you can find it here: Roots of the Tree: Strengthening our Community.
Feel free to reach out to me on facebook or through the comments or contact form here if you’d like to run it at your own gathering or meetups, and I’d be happy to walk you through any questions or logistics, or help you alter it to better suit the needs of your community.