A New Hope: Inspiring Change through Star Wars

At the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center we not only focus on the Holocaust, but also on how we can be the best of humanity today. To celebrate Star Wars Day, aptly celebrated on May 4th, as a play on words of “May the Force” be with you, I am choosing to highlight some members of the Star Wars fandom who are forces for good in their communities. You can also identify the strengths in your favorite Star Wars characters with this activity.

Even if you have never seen a Star Wars film, you could probably explain the concept in a pinch: Good and evil fighting in space. Although real life may not be quite so black and white, this saga makes it clear who we should be rooting for.

Besides rallying behind the Rebellion and Resistance during the films, some Star Wars fans have taken it upon themselves to do good in their communities.

Following Carrie Fisher’s death, fans encouraged others to make donations to The Thalians, an organization that both Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, were passionate about. The Thalians was created in 1955 by Hollywood actors and is dedicated to helping mental health causes.

The 1st Sensory Legion is a small charity event that hosts accessible and inclusive events like Feel the Force Day in the UK, which hosts 10,000 people annually. They not only offer sensory-friendly events for those on the Autism spectrum, but they also provide the opportunity for individuals who may be Blind to experience the saga through tactile items.

The 501st Legion, otherwise known by their tagline “Bad Guys Doing Good” started as a fan group of costume enthusiasts. They quickly saw the need for their organization to do good in their communities. In 2016, their Make-A-Wish endowment was created to help grant Star Wars wishes to critically ill children and their families. If you search for Star Wars Make-A-Wish, you will see the incredible amount of hope and joy these wishes have made. Below is one of my favorite ones:

Runners have the opportunity to support a variety of charities by running and fundraising for them during the Star Wars Rival Run at the Walt Disney World Resort. These charities include the American Cancer Society, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Give Kids the World, National Down Syndrome Society, and the Teaching and Learning Collaborative.

With the release of the newest installment of films, Star Wars: A Force for Change launched. Their aim is to “motivate the next generation of heroes and innovators, while also empowering the Star Wars fan community to use their fandom for good.” Aside from charitable contributions, they have also teamed up with other organizations to make STEM more readily accessible to students, and to inspire them to make positive change in their community.

Star Wars is not the only “fandom” to inspire positive change. Take a moment to search for your favorite books or films to see if their fans are using their favorite books and movies for good. How can you take the inspiring actions of some of your favorite books or films to make a positive change? How can we be the best of humanity?

-Morgan Woodring, Tour Coordinator