The Virtues of Obi-Wan Kenobi: Loyalty, Diplomacy and Patience


I’ve been a fan of Obi-Wan Kenobi my entire Star Wars-loving life. Part of that has to be contributed to the acting talents of Sir Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor, but the majority of my admiration is based on Kenobi’s many virtues, including loyalty, diplomacy and patience.

Kenobi is loyal to the council, his master, his apprentice and to the Force, even when it costs him dearly to remain so. Qui-Gon wants him to take on Anakin? So be it. The Jedi Council wants him to go on a diplomatic mission? Done. Does he have to sacrifice his own life to bring balance to the Force? Then that’s the way it will have to be, and Kenobi will follow through.

Kenobi only resorts to violence or the use of his Force abilities when all other options are exhausted. Look at Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope for a number of great examples of Kenobi’s sense of diplomacy. He doesn’t attack the Sand People. He prefers to scare them away, even though he could probably turn them into sizzling chunks of Tusken teriyaki if he wanted to.

He doesn’t force Luke abandon his life on Tattooine, even though the balance of the Force and the collapse of the Empire depends on it. He won’t push knowledge on him that he’s not ready for, even though it might speed things up. He even tries to avoid the brawl in the cantina by offering to buy Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba drinks. It is only when they force his hand that one of them loses his.

Kenobi is also patient. He realizes that Luke’s journey from Tattooine to his final fight with Vader and Palpatine is going to be a long one. It’s going to cost him a couple of decades in exile living in obscurity on a tiny desert planet before he’ll see that journey start, and he’s willing to sit it out.

It’s this phase of his life that most intrigues me. What was he doing on Tattooine for a couple of decades? How did he go from being one of the greatest Jedi Knights in the galaxy to a hermit living in a cave? What kind of discipline and humility did it take for him to commit to this kind of obscurity? This final phase of his life is the very epitome of his virtues in action.

As August 27, I’ll have some answers. John Jackson Miller’s novel Kenobi hits shelves, and when it does, I bet I’ll learn all kinds of new reasons why I should respect Obi-Wan:

The Republic has fallen.
Sith Lords rule the galaxy.
Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi has lost everything . . .
Everything but hope.

Tatooine—a harsh desert world where farmers toil in the heat of two suns while trying to protect themselves and their loved ones from the marauding Tusken Raiders. A backwater planet on the edge of civilized space. And an unlikely place to find a Jedi Master in hiding, or an orphaned infant boy on whose tiny shoulders rests the future of a galaxy.

Known to locals only as “Ben,” the bearded and robed offworlder is an enigmatic stranger who keeps to himself, shares nothing of his past, and goes to great pains to remain an outsider. But as tensions escalate between the farmers and a tribe of Sand People led by a ruthless war chief, Ben finds himself drawn into the fight, endangering the very mission that brought him to Tatooine.

Ben—Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, hero of the Clone Wars, traitor to the Empire, and protector of the galaxy’s last hope—can no more turn his back on evil than he can reject his Jedi training. And when blood is unjustly spilled, innocent lives threatened, and a ruthless opponent unmasked, Ben has no choice but to call on the wisdom of the Jedi—and the formidable power of the Force—in his never-ending fight for justice.