Why You Might Be on the Dark Side

I love Star Wars, and I love discussing it on social media. Sometimes however, fans make disturbing comments. I find people who root for the Jedi, but based on their opinions, they would be Sith. This serves as a warning against hypocrisy and a call to examine ourselves in all areas of life.

When Fans Miss the Point

Many fans hate The Last Jedi (spoilers follow) for a variety of reasons, but one common complaint is that Luke should have been more powerful, physically travel to Crait, and destroy a substantial portion of the First Order’s army. (One person on Quora asks, “Why did Luke Skywalker seem so pathetic in Star Wars Episode 8, the Last Jedi?”, but others gave excellent responses.)

Sadly, many people identify the Force with power, which actually matches Sith philosophy. Instead, Luke follows the Jedi path explained by Yoda decades earlier, “The Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack”. Shouldn’t we commend Luke for finding a non-violent way of rescuing the Resistance?

Many fans have made disturbing Reddit comments on Star Wars Rebels (and I’ll leave out spoilers). At the beginning of the season four, multiple people complained that the Jedi and apprentice did not kill stormtroopers with their lightsabers. When possible, they simply cut the guns in half and knocked them unconscious. (Instead of murder, they destroyed the weapons of war.)

Embodying hypocrisy, Saw Gerrera (also in Rogue One) criticizes Mon Mothma and the Rebellion for not using the Empire’s tactics. © Lucasfilm

After a main character dies, two rebels seek revenge. While one beats an Imperial assassin unconscious and intends to pummel him to death, the other rebel thankfully stops him. Multiple Redditors complained, desiring a merciless murder. (To find the comments, click link and search page for Rukh.)

In response, others explained the Jedi and rebels would not needlessly kill because it’s a kid’s show. True, but not the point! They do not kill these people because it is wrong and contrary to the Jedi philosophy.

Season three had earlier emphasized this moral with the opposite example: when the apprentice secretly learns from a Sith artifact, he actually kills stormtroopers with his lightsaber and in even darker ways. The shows producers were not avoiding violent scenes, but communicating the message that if we want to be on the Light, we must even care for our opponents.

Partisan Hypocrisy

How could people root for Luke, the Jedi, and the rebels, but still want to see them powerfully and violently kill others? They have missed the entire point of Star Wars and the teachings of the Jedi religion.

Sadly, people miss the point of real world faiths as well. This occurs in the gospels when a Samaritan town refused to host Jesus:

“When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.’ And they went on to another village. (Luke 9:54-56)

In all the mentioned examples, people (fans or disciples) have committed themselves to a “side” but not what the side stands for.

Have you embraced the Dark Side?

Hypocrisy does not limit itself to Star Wars fandom or first century religion, but it saturates our lives and our culture. We can all list ways other people, (especially those with the opposite political beliefs), act hypocritically.

Instead of focusing on others, let’s examine ourselves.

Luke confronts evil and finds himself. © Twentieth Century Fox

First, what side are you on? What groups do you identify with? In our increasingly politically polarized environment, please consider your political affiliation, but don’t limit yourself to it.

Second, what have people on your side done that you would criticize if done by others?

Lastly, have you violated your principles in order to promote the success of your side?

These questions should not lead to guilt, but transformation, which is a key theme in Star Wars. When Luke nearly kills his father in The Return of the Jedi, he looks at his father’s severed hand and then his own mechanical one. Realizing he is becoming what he fights against, he chooses a different path and offers mercy. He can only overcome the Dark Side in himself after he acknowledges it. (I wanted to write a post about this theme called “Yoda, Jung, and the Shadow”, but someone else already wrote my ideas.)

In response to self-reflection, let’s act consistently. If we remain devoted to principles in a nonpartisan way, this unusual behavior can, bit by bit, transform the larger dialogue over polarized issues.

Let’s follow the example of Luke and our favorite Star Wars heroes who remain committed to others and also their principles.

4 thoughts on “Why You Might Be on the Dark Side”

    1. Thanks for the compliment!
      I’ve definitely been wondering why people (including me) watch so much violence. I recently realized I couldn’t remember the last movie I watched without an explosion. Is the motivation a good one, like wanting to see evil defeated, but twisted towards violence and lacking empathy? I don’t know. I guess I need more introspection.

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