Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Comparison of Jedi and Sith Philosophy

In Star Wars the Jedi and the Sith are two powerful seemingly diametrically opposed groups of individuals striving against one another to achieve their own agendas. What may seem shocking to some is that there are some things that the two groups actually agree on; a fact that ironically forces their struggle against one another to continue throughout the eons.

The Jedi
The Jedi are the self-purported guardians of peace and justice throughout the galaxy in the Star Wars universe who are supposed to have the goals of better understanding the nature of the Force, following its will, and defending life no matter what shape it may take. They guide themselves by following what they call the Jedi Code. Though there are many versions of the Code, as it has required alteration, updating, and adjustment over time we’ll take a look at the most common version for the purposes of our comparison:
Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Master

There is no emotion, there is peace
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge
There is no passion, there is serenity
There is no chaos, there is harmony
There is no death, there is the Force

This code governs the life of each and every Jedi instructing them in broad terms as to what they should and shouldn’t do.

1. There is no emotion, there is peace – This tenant of the code teaches the release of emotion. Jedi were to be impartial and driven by sound judgment and wisdom rather than fleeting emotions. Instead a Jedi was to be at peace with others, the world, and themselves.
2. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge – Jedi believed that it was vital to overcome their own ignorance and that of others with the knowledge available to them. This likely stems from the conclusion that, most conflicts come from misunderstandings that can be avoided by learning more about one another and respecting those differences that make us unique. Knowledge is sought by the Jedi on all subjects in order to help conquer ignorance wherever and however it should arise.
3. There is no passion, there is serenity – Jedi espoused the concept of abandoning passion as a needless distraction in one’s life and instead embracing serenity in all situations. This would allow a Jedi to approach any situation without experiencing turmoil and to accept the direction of their masters, the council, and the Force without hesitation.
4. There is no chaos, there is harmony – The Jedi strove to bring balance to their lives as well as to the galaxy as a whole. Any unbalance was viewed as potentially leading to chaos and turmoil within an individual preventing them from reaching the harmony balance provided. From a place of harmony a Jedi could juggle their various roles and needs without becoming overwhelmed or falling prey to anxiety or depression.
5. There is no death, there is the Force – The final tenant of the code reinforces the idea that every Jedi needn’t fear death as it was an illusion. Upon passing a Jedi would become one with the Force continuing to exist and contribute in some way to the galaxy. This helped to allay fear in the face of death allowing Jedi to more easily remain emotionless, serene, and in harmony and thus often resulting in Jedi surviving and even triumphing where others could not.

The Sith
On the other end of the spectrum are the Sith. They are more interested in gaining personal power than in achieving enlightenment and use the Force as a tool to make their will a reality rather than being used for the purposes of the Force’s will. The Sith, being a breakaway of the Jedi created their own code to express their beliefs:

Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith
Peace is a lie, there is only passion
Through passion, I gain strength
Through strength, I gain power
Through power, I gain victory
Through victory, my chains are broken
The Force shall free me

This code was the basis of all those who would strive to become a Sith and clearly kicks off with a direct contradiction to the Jedi Code reinforcing the idea that the two are opposed.

1. Peace is a lie, there is only passion – This first line in the code informs its readers that the concept of peace is an invention of those too weak to accept that all that truly exists is passion. Passion drives the Sith forward, fueling their actions, motives, and desires. Passion is the core of the Sith philosophy.
2. Through passion, I gain strength – The Sith learned to use their passion to give them strength. The more they hated, the more the fires of passion burned within them and the stronger they seemed to become.
3. Through strength, I gain power – A Sith would use this strength to subjugate those weaker than him, making them subservient as he or she once were. The strength of each fallen enemy added to their own through both experience and reputation, or through enslavement.
4. Through power, I gain victory – Using their rising power a Sith seeks to and if powerful enough ultimately does conquer all that once imprisoned them. They first achieve victory over themselves, then victory over others, and some ultimately achieve victory over the Force itself.
5. Through victory, my chains are broken – The achieved victories destroy the bonds that keep the Sith from becoming all that they desire to be. Breaking these bonds is often the hardest task that a Sith will face.
6. The Force shall free me – For the Sith, freedom is the ultimate goal of their existence; Freedom from the laws that restrict others and make them less than what they could be, freedom from being a victim to anyone, and freedom from death itself. The Force, and the Sith’s use of it grants them this freedom that they crave.

The Obvious Similarity
Anakin and Padme's Wedding
The one thing that stands out as a common element between both the Jedi and the Sith is what neither is willing to talk about in their respective codes. It’s a well-established fact from various sources in the lore that both orders in one way or another fear love. Now that seems like a strange thing to fear, but they both have their reasons. Love is a wildcard in regard to both philosophies. Love can bring peace to an individual in knowing that no matter what they’re not alone, but can also dredge up the kind of emotions that can make one capable of anything. Love can be a catalyst for learning as you seek to be better for a person, or it can blind a person from what’s really happening and make them weak. Love can fuel the furnace of passion clouding ones judgment and causing a person to give their power to another. Love can bring chaos to one’s life as you struggle to understand another person or breed contentment leading to a cessation of one’s quest for victory. Love ultimately asks that you would die for another rather than let them perish so you can be free. Love is very, very dangerous.

And yet, in the real world, love is necessary for successful coexistence. Love drives me to sacrifice for others and them to do likewise for me. Love causes me to strive for more and not be satisfied with what little I can provide now. Love fills me with the desire to continually better myself for the benefit of those around me and love demands that I surrender my life in order to truly be free.

The Jedi and Sith are very different and yet very much alike. Though different in their reactions to it, the Jedi and Sith are driven apart by their mutual rejection of the concept of love. Though I doubt very much it will ever happen, only by embracing love will the two groups ever be successfully reunited. Still the hope for it continues to exist here in my N3rd C0rn3r.