Hera Syndulla: Compassion and Passion
Hera is without a doubt one of my favorite Star Wars characters. I've always loved her since the beginning of the show, for many reasons, and I just find her to be such a compelling and interesting character. It's always exciting when she gets a mention or even shows up in any of the extracurricular material. One of my favorite things about Hera is how she embodies two important virtues: compassion and passion.
Compassion and passion are sometimes put at odds with one another in the Star Wars universe. Jedi are, as Anakin once says, encourage to be compassionate towards others. They are supposed to be the protectors of the galaxy, after all, and compassion is very necessary for that. They need to care about others and feel for their plights. Passion, however, is discouraged. One line from the Jedi Code is "There is no passion, there is serenity." Strong emotions that could alter action, and that could create dangerous attachments are discouraged, even forbidden in some ways by the Jedi. A Jedi is supposed to be compassionate, but overcome their passions that may make them act irrationally- become serenity and gain inner peace.
Hera isn't a Jedi, though. She follows no such code, and therefore is (in my opinion) able to simultaneously embody the best of both compassion and passion, using both of these qualities to make her a better leader, hero, and of course member of her family.
Hera's compassion is very clear in the show- it's what gets her dubbed as "space mom" by literally everybody. While her love for her family is of course a strength of hers, making her a good confidant and source of comfort for all of them when they need it, it's far from the only way that her compassion manifests. What makes Hera's compassion such an important, innate quality of hers is the fact that her compassion extends to the whole galaxy.
Even in A New Dawn, before she gathers together the Ghost Crew, Hera's compassion is driving her to fight the Empire by herself. She puts herself in danger every day so she can try to help people, to try and build a better future for everybody else- even though we know from season 4 of Rebels that for a long time, she didn't even consider what her own future would like, she was just concerned with helping others. It's her compassion for others that leads her to always help those in need, even when it isn't safe.
Hera's compassion is also what leads her to form the Ghost Crew in the first place. As a girl, she found a poor little astromech in a Y-Wing crash and just had to fix him up. In A New Dawn, her compassion draws her to Kanan, who's definitely having a rough go at life at the moment, and to forging the connection that they have. In "Spark of Rebellion," her compassion for Ezra as a poor, young street rat leads to her convincing Kanan that he'd be a good member of their team. We don't know all the details about how they met Sabine and Zeb, but I wouldn't be surprised if their stories are similar.
Hera's compassion is one of her strengths and her motivator- it's what keeps her going through the war, even through the end in the Alphabet Squadron books.
Another of Hera's core strengths, as I've mentioned, is her passion. It's something I think gets a little ignored by fans sometimes, trying to shove her into a soft "space mom" persona, but it's a deep part of her character that just adds to my love of her.
Her passion is tied inextricably to her compassion for others because what brings out Hera's passionate side is her protective, caring nature. When Hera feels that anyone- especially those she cares about- are in danger, that brings out a passion, even an anger within her, to make sure they're okay. It's this passion that makes Hera stubborn and fierce in battle.
I think one of my favorite examples of this of course is Hera's infamous anger in "Double Agent Droid," when she realizes that Chopper has been sliced into by the Empire. This ignites a fire in Hera that we rarely see, where she goes nearly into a rage, and uses Chopper to connect to the slicers' ship and blows the whole thing up, complete with an angry message to them so that they know exactly who is responsible, and why they shouldn't mess with Hera Syndulla.
It's an awesome scene (and episode in general), and one that really embodies the fiery passion that Hera has, and how she can unleash it on anyone who earns it. However, her passion isn't only there for explosions- her passion is what makes her such a strong adversary for enemies in dogfights or strategic wars. Her passion makes her stubborn, always looking for a new opportunity to win, or at least escape with her team's lives.
Hera's compassion and passion together are a strength of hers- showing the Jedi that both are important and powerful in creating change for the greater good. They feed each other in a loop- her compassion for others makes her so passionate about the fight she's in, and her strong, passionate feelings only enhance that compassion.
These qualities together of Hera's make for such an interesting character, and one that implicitly challenges the Jedi Code presented to us in Star Wars. Hera finds strength in qualities that the Jedi both encourage and discourage, making her well-rounded and balanced, and such a great addition to the galaxy far, far away- for the reasons that I wrote about here and a million more.