Listen Up, Padawannabes!

Let me start by saying, I would give my room mate’s right arm to have a lightsaber.  I don’t mean the replica Obi-Wan lightsaber I already have.  I mean an honest-to-Force fully functional lightsaber.  I would carry that baby every where!  The look on a mugger’s face the first time I fired that puppy up would be worth the cost on its own.

But I know that isn’t going to happen.  Physics-wise, a lightsaber is a non-trivial problem to say the least.  I will have to settle for bonking muggers with glowing Lucite (complete with film-realistic sound FX!).

Likewise, I know that I can never be a Jedi, and it has nothing to do with a lack of working weaponry.  I don’t want to upset any “jedi” that may read this but…the “Jedi Philosophy” as seen in the movies can not work in real life.  Face it, it barely worked in the movies; if you accept the prequel trilogy as cannon (and I do not. Deal.) it was actions arising from internal philosophical differences that led to the Jedi Order’s destruction.  I mean, are you seriously telling me that out of the entire Jedi Order, no one thought that “bring balance to the Force” might have another meaning?  And why would you think that eliminating the Sith would bring balance? Maybe they need to look up “balance” in the Oxford Jedi Dictionary again…

But inasmuch as the philosophy works, it works because it is a hybrid-construct made to serve its ultimate Master, the plot.  Taken away from its Master and left to fend for itself, that philosophy begins to fall apart and turn feral pretty damn quickly.  Which isn’t surprising, given the inherent conflicts in the three main philosophies used to build it:

Buddhism – followed in many forms in many Eastern nations, the main tenet of Buddhist religion found in most sects is one of dispassion.  Buddhists seek to separate themselves from feelings about the world around them, so they can live in a state of “dispassionate compassion” for the world.  So far, so good, right?  But then we sprinkle in some…

Taoism – followed mainly in China, Taoism is a philosophy not a religion (like Buddhism).  There is no central deity; instead, Taoists believe in a universal tension between “yin” and “yang” which gives rise to life force (finally, we are onto The Force) called “qi” or sometimes “chi”.  And while Taoist philosophy does sometimes include the idea of “dispassionate compassion”, it does not seek to eliminate emotional attachments.  In fact, most Taoist thought includes the need for desire, so that the Taoist can observe the form such desires take, allowing a better understanding of mankind.  So, yeah, we aren’t even out of the Eastern philosophies and already we run into conflicts.  Then we move West and throw in…

Chivalry – Chivalry was neither a religion nor a philosophy, but a code of behaviour attributed to knights in the Middle Ages.  Arguably observed more in the breach, it was tied in closely with Christianity and to a lesser extent Zoroastrianism.  The code of conduct included rules regarding honour, fealty and courage.  Because of its ties to Christianity we get our first introduction to ideas of “Good” and “Evil”, and how good must vanquish evil.  Ooookay…

So what do we end up with?  Buddhism says, “dispassionate compassion”.  Taoism says, “Sure, sure, that’s great. But how about we work to find a balance between passion and dispassion? Then we can tap into the life-force that binds us all.”  Chivalry says, “Balance?  We don’t need no stinking balance!  Do what your lord (or Lord) says, fight with courage and honour, and vanquish Evil!”  Are you seeing the problem?

Now, you can see bits and pieces of all these philosophies/religions scattered all through the Star Wars movies (even the prequels, if that’s how you get your jollies, sicko).  But that is all it is, a loose sprinkling of ideological snippets.  There is no philosophical cohesion, because none is possible.  And while you can ignore that lack and still enjoy the movies, I would challenge you to live the “Jedi Code” in real life without developing schizophrenia.

So kudos, all you padawannabes, on trying to live as a better person.  But self-examination forms the base for any plan to live better, and I think you will find your philosophy has a few stress fractures.

That’s my two credits, anyway.  Discuss.

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