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Sith Redemption – part 1


You may or may not be aware, but Star Wars the Clone Wars has recently been added to Netflix. The boys and I have begun to watch this over the weekend. We have seen a few episodes here and there, but not many as they were on Cartoon Network and we didn’t have cable for most of when the series was running. So, we have has an influx of Jedis in our house over the weekend. It has been fun to watch the boys run around with light sabers, using the force to battle evil.

One of the themes that draws me to the Star Wars story is the theme of redemption. As we watch the clone wars, we see Anakin Skywalker as a young Jedi before he is corrupted by the dark side of the force. I believe, Anakin’s story could be my story. I struggle with anger, anxiety, fear, resentment – all paths to the dark side.

Yoda has said the path to the dark side is an easy one. I find this to be true in my own life. It is easy to exercise anger over restraint, anxiety over peace, fear over confidence and resentment over contentment. It is difficult to slow down and think through a response to any given stimuli rather than react off the cuff. As a parent it is much less effective to consistently react to our children instead of proactively parent them.

Why is it so easy for us to fall? Why is so hard to not give in to the temptation to follow a path of self-destruction? I don’t know I have the answers to these questions for everyone, but I know in my own experience it feels more powerful. It feels like I remain in control. It feels less humiliating. It feels less embarrassing. It feels more powerful.

The dark side of the force (and our own behavior) feeds our selfish desires. It selfishly feeds our wants at the expense of others. It selfishly puts us before those around us.

Anakin’s path to the dark side was slow, as he began to give in to himself. As he began to care for himself more than others. As he began to place too much confidence in himself and his abilities. As he began to have less concern for others.

Anakin didn’t know it at the time, but he was on a path that would need redemption. And like the path many of us have taken to redemption, it wasn’t an easy one. I want to write a few more posts on this idea this week to see how one Sith being redeemed is very much like one Eli being redeemed.

The Star Wars story is one that has captivated since I was a young boy. I can remember going to see Return of the Jedi in the movie theater with my mother. I have always enjoyed this story. I will do my best to give it the respect it deserves as I write about one of fictional histories most influential characters.

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  1. Eli,

    I just finished walking Caleb through the movies and we finished Revenge of the Sith yesterday, so it is fresh on my mind. I’ve got a couple of observations that will interact with what you say here.

    It’s interesting that the jedi philosophy is to get rid of all attachments because any type of attachment can lead to jealousy.

    What’s interesting about Anakin’s struggles is that his desires and passions are not easily recognized as greed on their face. Instead, his first passion, hinted at in the first movie, was to protect his mother and save her from harm. His inability to save her left him feeling powerless despite the immense power he possessed due to his training. This “hole” in his power is a big key to why he turned.

    Then in Revenge, his passion was the protection of Padme and their children and to a lesser extent, his commitment to the Republic. Each of these passions was motivated by love. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with love. Love is a good thing. Love and concern for others is at the heart of the Jedi way.

    The problem came when Palpatine began to twist Anakin’s thought process. Palpatine offered Anakin the ability to fill the “hole” in Anakin’s power and manipulated his passions and his love. Offering Anakin the power to fulfill his desires awakened in him a thirst for power and the ability to control his environment. Once he thought he had lost Padme and the baby, all that was left was the thirst for power.

    It was only when Darth Vader was reawakened to the understanding that he in fact had living offspring that his redemption began. The series concludes with Darth Vader back in the same position he was with his mother and with Padme. Seeing Luke suffer at the hands of the Emperor, he chose love over power and the other over self and in doing so, redeemed himself.

    I’ll be interested to see your thoughts on Vader’s redemption because his redemptive act in saving Luke led to his own death. His redemption, in this life, was short lived.

    One other thought about the Star Wars presentation of good and evil. It has become popular in recent pop culture to explain away evil or to present an explanation for evil. The best example of this is the Broadway show Wicked. In Wicked, we are introduced to Elphaba, otherwise known as the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. In the Wizard of Oz, the with is evil, no questions asked. But in Wicked, we are given a backstory that presents Elphaba as the victim of bullying and circumstance. She is evil because she was made evil by others. It wasn’t her fault.

    On the other hand, in Revenge of the Sith, Anakin’s descent into the dark side of the force is the result of his own choices and giving in to his own passions. Yes, he is manipulated by Palpatine, but he clearly has a choice and makes that choice of his own free will and embraces the evil of the dark side. I realize that the prequels were conceived years ago and predate shows like Wicked by a decade, but it is still nice to see a presentation of evil that helps us try to understand its roots without trying to explain it away and/or excuse the one making poor/evil choices.

    Looking forward to more posts.

    • Eli Westfall

      March 19, 2014 at 9:42 am

      Thanks Brian. You bring out several thoughts I wanna touch on. You are right, Palpatine uses good thins in Anakin’s life and twists them for evil. Reminds me of satan masquerading as an angel of light. Further illustrating things aren’t always bad until we take them to somewhere that makes them bad.

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