Is the Star Wars Universe healthy? Has technology capable of hyperdrive and planet cracking created sensible and effective health care? Indeed, the experiences of a galaxy far, far away provides many lessons for the backward populations of present day Earth:
1. Wars are hell on planetary health and health care. For Rey, one of three young, new heroines of the latest Star Wars episodes, self-reliance is all. If you get hurt in the desert, you must take care of yourself – or you, too, will be scavenged. Even citizens of relatively stable parts of the post-Imperium appear to manage through quick, ad hoc health care arrangements. The teaching is clear – aided you by the Force may be, but you are on your own. Health is more important than health care.
2. Aging is not licked, not even close. Carrie Fisher has undergone vicious ribbing about time ravaging her features – though her sensible coif and understated uniform helps define the greater gracefulness of maturity. Though Fisher has ascribed much of her “excess aging” to drinking and drugging (doesn’t anyone remember that Han Solo and Chewbacca was smuggling narcotics?) even in advanced human systems, movie stars are not allowed to age. But they are allowed to die – as discovered by Lor San Tekka, played by the great 86 year old Max von Sydow (perhaps his name stands for “Lord Without Tech,” a hint of what might happen to the unfortunates of this galaxy.) As Han Solo (Harrison Ford) also makes evident, exercise on grizzled spaceships may aid one’s appearance, but in the Star Wars Universe plastic surgery has its limits.
Worse, drug use remains dangerous and hard to eradicate across all known space.
3. High Technology does not mean advanced health care technology. When one of the principal players is eviscerated on the battlefield by the forces of evil, no specialty health care robots are available to support him. Robots may be capable of diplomacy and intelligently concealing the secrets of the universe, but expeditiously fixing the human body seems to have left them Trumped. Nevertheless, a corollary lesson may be applied:
4. If a character is required for a sequel, he will be brought back from the dead, his body extensively rebuilt. Just as in our galaxy, human regenerative capacities are indeed miraculous – and plot friendly.
5. Clones are better than crones. Imperial storm troopers remain remarkable creatures. They are young, healthy, capable of extreme physicality, loyal, and remarkably obedient. They even respond quickly and effectively to mind control (see below) and appear totally resistant to unionization and the blandishments of leisure. As a group, cloned imperial stormtroopers seem to offer future corporate chieftains ideal workers, drawing into question present disregard for cloning of plants and animals. And take note – the rebellious John Boyega, on whom the plot of the recent Star Wars remake revolves, is most decidedly not a clone. His relatively low, non-clone status may explain past unprestigious work as a garbage attendant. In Star Wars people who know how your garbage gets dumped can really hurt you – just as occurs in our part of the universe.
6. Mind Control possesses extraordinary economic and political benefits. The third generation remake of Darth Vader, Kaylo Ren, can directly extract brain information, allowing for extraordinary military and political strategies. The utter power of Mind Control also helps explain why everyone in the Star Wars Universe is desperate to find the shattered, destitute Jedi Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill.) Luke’s Mind Control is so powerful he need not utter a word to show his anguish and heartbreak – and provide the springboard to potentially limitless sequels. Artists of propaganda, merchandising and advertising take note – in the coming age of Virtual and Augmented Reality, Mind Control may prove the coming Force.
In the end, the Star Wars Universe teaches us brutal facts – even with the unimaginable power of galaxy wide technology, health care and health itself remain ghastly laggards. Perhaps the chaos of American health care may only grow in our uncharted future. For the final health care lesson of the Star Wars saga may be this – that the Farce will be with you!