We all know the true villain of Star Wars, right? The one that spreads lies, tries to make everyone conform to their way of thinking, push those that disagree with them away, and almost destroys the entire universe. He’s old, he’s wrinkly, and he’s green. That’s right, Yoda. Okay, maybe not just Yoda, but he gets most of the blame. For so long you’ve been told that Emperor Palpatine or Darth Vader or the Sith are the bad guys in the series. And while they are evil, and they do bad things, they are not the only people to be blamed. Jedi Master Yoda, and the entire Jedi Order, are the villains that create Darth Vader and try to use their power to take control of the entire universe. This could end up being a longer piece, but for the sake of keeping this on the shorter side, only the Lucasian films will be taken into consideration (Episodes 1-6).
By the time the Clone Wars begin, the Jedi have already been corrupted. They have moved on from being keepers of the peace to being super soldiers- generals leading regiments of clones against droids. They have forsaken their own Jedi code to try and save, not the galaxy, but the position of power that they hold. The Jedi, before the war, remained out of the political senate while at the same time being able to affect what happens in the senate. Functioning as a separate entity from the government, the Jedi were able to take control with no system of checks and balances. This stems from a misunderstanding of the prophecy of the Chosen One. The Jedi long believed that the prophecy foretold of the Chosen One destroying the Sith and bringing balance to the Force. When in reality, balance in the Force is not the absence of Sith, but the absence of Sith and Jedi. Anakin Skywalker was meant to bring balance to the Force, which means he was meant to fall to the dark side, and rise again. He defeated the Jedi and Emperor Palpatine, and when Anakin finally died, he left a balance in the Force: no Sith, no Jedi, only Luke. More on this later.
The real sins of the Jedi fall upon Yoda and Ben Kenobi, mainly in both Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Yoda becomes Luke’s teacher, and some of his training is quite useful. But with that being said, there is one huge issue with what he teaches Luke. As Luke receives visions of Han and Leia in trouble at Cloud City, he is determined to go help them. Yoda warns that if he leaves, he will undo all that they have fought for. Both Yoda and Obi Wan state that if Luke wants to honor what Han and Leia fight for then he must let them go. So Luke does the logical thing and leaves. Luke is often considered selfish and foolish- only thinking of himself and never seeing the big picture. But it is Luke that sees the big picture and everyone else who does not understand. The solution is not the Jedi way. It is not detachment and removal of emotions and passions. It is embracing the emotions and passions and using them for good. It needs to be understood: no one believes that Darth Vader can come back to the good side except for Luke. Everyone else has thrown out the idea of redemption. If there is a line that cannot be crossed in order to one day find salvation, Vader crossed it years ago. But Luke knows the truth: everyone can be saved. It is not detachment that brings Vader back, and causes him to kill Palpatine. It is love. Love for his son that was shown to him by his son. And it is love that is the solution, not the Jedi way and not the Sith way.
The light side of the Force is not the way. That should also be noted. Nowhere in the Lucasian films is there ever a mention of the light side. That is because the light side is false. The light side of the Force is what the Jedi Order believed in. The light side is rejecting one’s humanity. At the same time, the dark side of the Force is not the way. The dark side embraces impulses and immediacy. It is the easy solution to the problem which many times results in further destruction. The way is balance between the light and the dark- as Luke puts it, “the good side”. The way is using love and compassion and forgiveness to create change. To rewrite the rules. To play a different game than the world wants you to play. In Return of the Jedi, when Darth Vader brings up Leia, and Luke attacks him with anger- let’s not pretend it wasn’t anger. It was. Luke was angry at the fact that his sister was now in danger. And he used that anger to attack his monster of a father. Giving into the notion that perhaps his father cannot be saved, he fights full force until he cuts off his father’s robotic hand. But this is where the change occurs. He sees the robotic hand, and he remembers his own. Luke knows that the Jedi would strike Vader down. Even the Jedi greats like Mace Windu would have agreed, having almost struck down Palpatine years before. But Luke knows that striking him down is the easy solution. He sees that the Jedi and the Sith are one and the same, and that they are not good. So he throws away his lightsaber. He gives up his defenses. He sacrifices himself rather than kill his father. And it is this sacrifice that brings Vader back from the dark side. Yoda says that attachment leads to jealousy which ultimately leads to the dark side. But it is Luke’s attachment: to his father, his sister, his friends; that bring his father back to the good side. Had Luke killed Vader, he would be no better than every other Jedi and Sith before him. The cycle would have continued when the cycle needed to be broken.
All in all, the Jedi are not without virtue. They have some good principles. It is good to be mindful, to do- not try, and to be patient. But in trying to remove the bad parts of humanity (or the closest equivalent in a galaxy filled with aliens), they also removed the good parts. The corruption of the Jedi Order is the result of removing love with fear, compassion with anger, forgiveness with hate, and empathy with suffering. Balance in the Force is not the survival of the Jedi and the death of the Sith, it is the abandonment of both Jedi and Sith and following the third path, the good side, that is represented by Luke Skywalker. Embracing emotions without letting them control you. Acknowledging the negative, but focusing on the positive. Because salvation is available to everyone, but they need to be given the chance to take it.
(Cover Photo: That Hashtag Show)