and me? (i'm half the man i wanted to be)
Anakin had an assignment in Political Strategy. The assignment was to: "Find or make a question that can only be answered in opinion, not fact, then form a conclusion off of those opinions."
The master of that class then suggested asking Knights and Masters around the Temple. So, that's what Anakin did, and the results were more or less what he expected. (Sadly.)
After collecting his research, Anakin returned to he and Obi-Wan's apartment.
The front slid open. "Master, I'm back!"
Obi-Wan's head appeared from the door into the kitchen. "No need to shout, Padawan. How did your research go?"
Anakin sighed, "It went. It definitely went."
He walked plopped down on a chair in the living room. Anakin had his legs hanging off one arm and his head sat on the other. Obi-Wan sat down in the chair opposite Anakin's and crossed his legs.
Obi-Wan arched an eyebrow. "It went? Did you catch it?"
"Oh, har har. Laugh it up, Master." Anakin frowned heavily, trying not to let himself smile.
The edges of Obi-Wan's lips quirked up.
"I wasn't laughing," he paused. "What was your assignment, again?"
Anakin sighed melodramatically. "We had to find a question that could only be answered with opinions. Then, we had to form a conclusion based on the opinions we got."
Obi-Wan's face became more serious, he sensed something. "Oh? What was yours?"
Anakin truly frowned this time. "Who will free the slaves?"
"And, you did research on that?"
Anakin nodded, sat properly on the chair, and pulled his datapad out of his tunic. While Anakin had his head down, Obi-Wan sensed something foreboding.
Anakin looked up, "You wanna hear my assignment?" He noticed his Master's strange expression. He frowned.
Obi-Wan nodded and sat back in his chair.
Anakin cleared his throat. "The question I came up with for this assignment was: Who will free the slaves? Before I went out and did research, I had a feeling about what kind of answers I was going to get. I was right.
"First, I went to Grand Master Yoda. I asked him. 'Only goes so far, The Republic's jurisdiction does. Free the slaves we cannot, not now, at least. Hm.'
"Then, I went to Master Windu. 'Free the slaves? Slavery is illegal in the Republic, young Skywalker. Have you learned nothing in your studies?'" Anakin then went on to name many more Knights and some Masters he asked, all of their answers vaguely similar. He finished reading the research portion of his report before he paused. Obi-Wan was looking at him strangely.
"Your conclusion, Anakin?"
Anakin looked his Master straight in the eye.
"Who will the slaves?" He paused, taking in a breath to calm himself. "No one. No one will free the slaves. Not the Jedi. Not the Republic. No one. Why? Because no one gives a damn."
Obi-Wan was, to the say the least, astonished. He had not seen Anakin so angry in a very long time. He opened his mouth, but no words found their way out. Anakin wasn't wrong, really.
"No one will free the slaves because no one cares enough. The Republic claims to have outlawed slavery, but it still exists. The Jedi claim to be just and fair, yet we do not help those in need? Those who are oppressed? Those who have been oppressed for literal generations?" Anakin began to weep, then.
"I, I don't understand, Master. What kind of bantha fodder is justice if it doesn’t apply to everyone? Even the slaves?" Tears began to pour in earnest now, spilling down the boy's cheeks.
Anakin's eyes fell off of Obi-Wan's form and to the floor. As if he was ashamed? Or guilty? (What good is one free slave when the rest of them suffer?)
Grief began rolling off Anakin in waves. Obi-Wan got out of his chair and came down to his knees in front of Anakin's chair. He took Anakin's face in both hands and wiped some tears away.
"I do not know if the slaves will ever be truly free, not the way the circumstances are currently, at least. Although, I do know, that it is not your fault. I feel the shame of justice denied, just as you do." Obi-Wan looked away from Anakin suddenly, feeling tears forming in his own eyes. "I will never know what being a slave feels like, but I know the feelings of shame and guilt, and those are formidable foes."
Obi-Wan's words didn't comfort Anakin, and they shouldn't have. For the truth is never comfortable, a lesson Obi-Wan had learned from his Master.
"Anakin," Obi-Wan's eyes traveled up again. "We must let go of the past and move on with the future, because it is always changing. Letting grief, guilt, and shame chain you to the past will do you no good. Believe in the Force and its will." Obi-Wan felt as if he was lying. (And maybe he was.)
Anakin was never quite good at letting go. (And maybe he never wanted to be.)
After a few more moments of Obi-Wan trying to comfort him, Anakin went to bed early. That night, he dreamt he freed the slaves. The morning after that, he wasn't sure he wanted to be a Jedi anymore. (But he would continue to be. If not for himself, for Obi-Wan.)