Rose Tico in a Time of Plague

It’s not about our enemies. It’s about our friends

I know I’m a little late to jump on this train, but please stay with me. What seems dated is actually timely….

Rose Tico, who we are introduced to as she mourns the recent and untimely death of her sister, is my favorite character from the new Star Wars films. There. I’ve said it. Yes, there are characters in Episodes VII-IX who play a larger part in the overall “Skywalker Saga.” I mean, she isn’t even in Episode VII and is tragically relegated to a bit part in Episode IX.

That aside, in her small amount of screen time, her personality shines through as a beacon of light in an otherwise somber and depressing series of films. “What?” you might be thinking. “Star Wars is fun!” And you’re right, there is adventure, there is comedy, there are awesome lightsaber battles, there are really, really cool spaceships, there are ewoks and porgs and wookies. But, thinking specifically about the final arc in the “Skywalker Saga,” let’s never forget Rey and Ben’s respective situations. Let’s never forget the sheer number of lives lost in these films or the fact that most of these deaths are caused by literal space Nazis. Let’s never forget the regret we see in Luke Skywalker. And let’s never EVER forget what happens to Han Solo. It’s all so dark… and to be fair, the other six films are pretty damn dark too. It’s just that we have trouble seeing the depth of that darkness because of the shiny sci-fi gleam blinding us. I’d be more specific, but I’m writing about Rose Tico today.

Speaking of Rose Tico, as I mentioned above, we are first introduced to her after her older sister Paige has sacrificed her life to save the Resistance. Paige’s actions, naturally, inform Rose’s. Throughout the entirety of the film, Rose wants to help, not hurt. She goes with Finn to seek out a codebreaker who can help keep the First Order off of the Resistance’s tail. She pities the fathiers and their children keepers on Cantonica because she feels they are being treated unjustly. Her most important action, of course, occurs near the end of the film, when she saves Finn’s life. When Finn asks why, she responds simply and beautifully with, “That’s how we’re gonna win, not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.” This explanation of her actions stands as a sincere testament to why we should do what we do, whatever it is that we do.

And I think of her now, during a pandemic, as I see terrible news every time I dare click on Twitter. I think of her now as I see my children struggling with isolation. I think of her now as I watch conspiracy theories thrive and politicians lie and an odd and depressing hate take hold of many. I think of her now as I wonder about those who’ve lost everything from jobs to loved ones. And I think, “How would Rose Tico handle this?”

The answer is clear. She would help the ones she loves. This might be difficult for her because Rose Tico seems like the kind of person who loves a lot. I wonder how she would help all of her loved ones. I think, in simple ways. She would check in on her friends and family. Zoom call them, perhaps. Maybe she’d drop off secret gifts on their doorsteps or stand in their driveways singing “Happy Birthday” to them. I’m sure she’d volunteer. She’d deliver food to food banks or offer rides to the doctor. She’d assist student mechanics who’ve lost their teachers due to school closings or death. She’d probably do more too.

Really, it comes down to two fundamental elements of Rose Tico’s character. Though she understands there are occasions in which we have to fight the ones we hate (she is part of the Resistance after all), she also understands that in most cases, things do not become better that way. Things become better when we save the ones we love.

So right now, on Mother’s Day, as we stare down the barrel of what is looking to be a long summer filled with COVID-19, conspiracy theories, and killer hornets, I suggest we all be a little more like Rose Tico.

Help the ones we love, don’t hurt the ones we hate… but also… be ready to join the Resistance.

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AE Stueve

AE Stueve

AE Stueve teaches and writes in Omaha, NE. Check out all of his available work at aestueve.com