the gathering

Shout out to Kelly Armstrong for creating a YA book series with
· believable main characters who are able to let the romance take a back burner to their fucking lives falling apart.
· Non glorification of mental disabilities and illness
· Characters that get periods, have acne, smell bad at times, eat the way they want, and JUST FUCKING BEHAVE LIKE TEENAGERS AND NOT SUPERMODELS IN A HIGH SCHOOL SETTING.
· Challenging the “boys will be boys” trope.
· Challenging racial stereotypes
· DID I MENTION NON GLORIFICATION OF MENTAL ILLNESS LIKE SHIT BRO
· POC protagonist and main characters
· NON. GLORIFICATION. OF. MENTAL. ILLNESS. AND. DISABILITIES.

“(Blaming a child with mental illness for not getting better…) wasn’t like pushing a reluctant student to get a passing grade. It was like blaming a kid with a learning disability for not getting A’s”.

“Why was it that every time a girl said she had a problem with a boy, it was written off as ‘oh he likes you’ as if that makes it okay?”

-all chloe saunders from The Summoning.

I’m having a bit of a Jedi Order defensive meltdown over on twitter for some reason tonight. One of the points that seems to come up again and again that constantly baffles is me is the accusation of the Jedi Order as baby stealers. They kidnap children and brainwash them, even though this is.. not the case? (Honestly, my brain always goes ‘Imperial propaganda!’ every time the argument comes up. Which is a lot.)

We haven’t exactly seen a lot of, uh, ‘recruitment’ in canon, but from what we’ve seen there is a key element of consent in joining the Order. In The Phantom Menace Anakin - admittedly a major outlier due to age and circumstance - agrees to go with Qui-Gon. Qui-Gon tells little Ani that he is free and that Qui-Gon intends to train him, but it will be difficult and full of hardship and trials. Anakin insists it’s what he’s always dreamed. He then turns to Shmi to ask for permission who tells him,

This path has been set before you. The choice is yours and yours alone.

Anakin hesitates and decides that yes, yes this is what he wants. This vast life-changing decision was made by Anakin, was set before him by adults who refused to force this decision on him. (Not going to discuss Anakin’s difficulties in assimilating to Jedi life since that is an entirely different subject.)

For a similar moment of consent and decision-making from a tiny youngling that is more in-keeping with standard traditional practices, we have tiny baby Ahsoka. In the too gorgeous flashback in the opening of The Gathering we see Master Plo Kloon kneel down (bringing himself to a level - making himself equal - just like Qui-Gon in TPM) and offer his hand to Ahsoka - an invitation. Tiny Ahsoka  hesitates and considers this offer before stepping forward to take his hand. (It is too cute, I may not be objective.) Like with the scene with Anakin, the adults - her family, her village, her people - stand back and let the moment play out. Plo Kloon does not take her hand or herd her anywhere. He makes and offer and Ahsoka chooses.  

In the voiceover over the same episode intro (The Gathering), it’s stated that:

When a youngling is located they are brought to the Jedi temple and learn quickly that their true family is the Jedi order.

There is a whole other factor to take into account in what those little younglings are feeling. They have these sense and currents and shared things that we [muggles] just can’t quite comprehend. They’ll have gone from wherever they were before coming to the Temple and probably been fairly isolated in terms of this additional sense, to be in a place where they can share that! They can revel in these gifts and share silently (or not, they’re children) and be understood and nurtured and taught. This instant support network, which is where that sense of ‘family’ comes in. Non-traditional, found families is kind of central tenet of Star Wars from the Order to the Golden Trio to the Ghost crew… (Again a conversation about Anakin’s difficulties in assimilating could be had, but there are layers of culture shock and adaption but yes, he does find his family in the Order. Even if it all goes just a bit wrong.)

The age factor is another thing - Ahsoka is a toddler in that flashback (so just able to comprehend her own feelings, work out what she sense of others.) At the start of S2 there’s the Holocron Heist arc where Cad Bane has the holocron with the list of Force-sensitive younglings (which he then sets to kidnapping for Sidious.) Going from that and the conversation with the Rhodian mother in Children of the Force, children are identified by whatever means but if they are too young they are left with their families until the time is right - probably a combination of age and development. (Presumably assuming they are also not at risk in their living situation).

Master Ropal said the day would come for him to come to the temple but not for some time.

Sure, there are the children born into the order or discovered very early on and need to come to the Temple immediately for whatever reason, meaning that they are too young to actively make decisions, but there will inevitably be moments of choice; trials go both ways. (I haven’t read the Jedi Academy books or anything - a friend when I was in school read them and summarised them but I don’t remember and they’re not canon, so.)

Literally the only time children are stolen in the name of the Jedi Order is by Cad Bane working for Sidious. Hate the Order, a lot of people do and it may not be entirely unfounded depending on your pov (I don’t agree!); they fucked up. They fucked up hard and a lot, but they were blinded by so many things and were tangled and lost. But in this? In child-stealing? Not so much. The Jedi Order weren’t villains.