The Clone Wars
Shark scientists and enthusiasts point out that we have an irrational fear of sharks because we are not familiar with them and therefore do not understand them. Feeling irrational fear is not the only negative when we remain unfamiliar with something in our world. Some of the things we don’t feel, such as connected, comfortable, or empathetic, can also have a negative impact not only on us, but on the person or object unfamiliar to us as well.
The cartoon Star Wars: The Clone Wars is set during the Clone Wars that take place between Star Wars Episodes II and III. As a child of the G.I. Joe cartoon era when Joes and Cobras alike jumped out of tanks and airplanes before they exploded and literally everyone lived to fight another day, I initially had to get over the shock of how many people died in this telling of the Star Wars universe. After I did, it donned on me that most of the dying was done by the Clones. Very rarely, have we had to suffer the loss of a character we have had any time to get to know and isn’t a clone. Most of the characters who fight and die in the Clone Wars are clones who look exactly the same, even with their helmets off, dress the same, are trained to act the same, share the exact same genetic profile and are completely interchangeable as far as the casual viewer might be concerned.
It struck me that my experience with Star Wars: Clone Wars is very similar to our experience as a country with our own warrior class. A very small percentage of US citizens – less than 1% – serve in the military. In addition to that, most of us who stayed home during these conflicts had to make no personal sacrifice for the wars, and therefore the wars have stayed quite far from our everyday lives. This has lead to a pronounced separation of classes between the warrior and non-warrior classes and has resulted in many veterans feeling some of the negative impacts of a society that is unfamiliar with and doesn’t understand them. Though many of us think positively of our service men and women and want to “support the troops,” supporting the troops is unintentionally the problem. Because the troops is a group. It’s a group most of us are on the outside of and are unfamiliar with and when that is the case, the group becomes they, them and those people. Clones.
Feeling like an outsider at home isn’t unique to the veteran experience. Color, race, immigration status, gender identity, gender, sexual preference and economic class, are just some of the many reasons people experience a feeling of otherness in our society. When we maintain a distance from groups of people and they remain unfamiliar to us, they all become clones to us. Being a pit bull owner is likely the only way I will ever experience a feeling of otherness and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen the limitations that come with being on the outside. Getting to know me and my dogs has proven time and again to be the best way to help people understand that I’m just some guy and my dogs are just some dogs. Neither of us present a danger to society. Learning from that experience I’ve made it a priority to get to know all the clones in my world. To take the time to connect with the individuals in the groups I’m unfamiliar with so I can see who they are, what is important to them and what makes them happy.
The Clone Troopers present a unique case when it comes to individual identity and what it means to get to know and become familiar with an individual. The philosophy of Game Dog Guardian has always been to build bridges to individuals. When you take the time to get to know people, then “support the troops” becomes “spend time with Taylor” and advocating for equal rights becomes “I care about what makes Sandra happy in her life.” Game Dog Guardian has always strived to be a connection, not a cause. If you have your own little Landshark at home and you don’t want people to fear you or your land sea-predator, reach out to them. Take off your helmet, make a connection and let them see who you are. Because in that process you can see them for who they are and you cease to be clones to each other. Deep down we’re all more than our clone serial numbers. We’re people and we have names, hopes, dreams, loves and aspirations. If we took the time to realize that of all the people around us, we might be slower to stand in the way of what makes us individuals.