The Mistakes of the Jedi
I Call out the Jedi Order On Their Mistakes
For forty-two years, the Jedi Knights have been some of the greatest paragons of good in pop culture. Wielding the power of the Force and armed with their lightsabers, they’re symbols of peace and good. However, once you’ve been into the franchise long enough, you see that the Jedi aren’t perfect. In fact, they can be just as bad as the Sith and dark siders they fight.
With the Rise of Skywalker out on Friday, and the future of the Jedi uncertain, I think now’s a good time to look at the flaws this group has. In addition, I’ll be providing examples of mistakes they’ve made in Star Wars, both in the new canon and Expanded Universe. Just because I love them doesn’t mean I can’t call them out on their nonsense.
No Blaster Training
This is more of a nitpick than an actual flaw the Jedi have. In a Galaxy where almost everyone has access to energy based firearms, the Jedi rely on the Force and their lightsabers for defense. Normally, that’s all they need, but even that can fail them.
Normally, the Jedi don’t use blasters because they see them as clumsy and, more often than not, lethal. Meanwhile, a lightsaber is methodical and doesn’t necessarily kill a person when used. Thus, they see it as an elegant weapon from a more civilized time. Here’s what I have to say to that:
Once the Empire rose, the last thing a Jedi would want to do is use a lightsaber in public. Therefore, blasters become a preferred option for Jedi trying not to draw attention.
Personally, I fail to see why the Jedi didn’t integrate blasters alongside lightsabers. Firstly, most, if not all blasters, have a stun setting so they can be non-lethal. Secondly, with the use of the Force, a Jedi will likely be far more accurate with their shots, to the point where can deliver non-lethal hits. In the Expanded Universe, there are several cases in which someone draws on the Force to deliver incredibly accurate and deadly shots. If the majority of Jedi trained with ranged weaponry, they could be deadlier than even the most skilled non-Force users. Finally , I think watching a Jedi dual-wield a lightsaber and blaster would incredibly badass.
Choose to Avoid their Emotions
Part of the Jedi’s code is to avoid using their emotions. They see it as means to cloud their judgement, and that negative emotions like fear and anger can lead to the Dark Side. As a result, the Jedi are seen as paragons of fairness and ideal as mediators and judges.
Unfortunately, there’s a flaw in choosing to avoid one’s emotions: not everyone’s capable of doing that. In fact, given how their job involves getting involved in potentially life-threatening and traumatic experiences, not dealing with one’s feelings can be a bad thing. Worse still, because the Jedi see emotion as a potentially bad thing, they have no way to help members who clearly need emotional support.
Take Anakin Skywalker, for example. He always felt guilty for leaving his Mom in slaver, something most Jedi had a hard time understanding. So when he started having nightmares about his Mom in trouble, their advice was to “be mindful of your thoughts”. That was a mistake, as Shmi Skywalker was in great danger, and ended up dying in his son’s arms. As a result of that traumatic experience, Anakin lost himself in his rage and killed the entire village of Tusken Raiders, even the non-combatants. Afterwards, he never told anyone outside of Padme and Palpatine, the latter of whom would use the knowledge to force further to the Dark Side. He kept the anger and guilt bottled up because he knew that the Jedi would refuse to forgive him.
I won’t condone what Anakin did, but I think many of us understand how traumatic the experience was for him. The Jedi wouldn’t have been able to, and that anger, guilt, and fear festered and helped push him to the dark side. The best thing the Jedi could have done was reach out not with horror, but with sympathy and understanding. Me? I would have been horrified at first, but would understand how much Anakin was suffering and that pushing him away would do more harm than good. In that moment, what Anakin really needed was a friend that understood why he did it and would help him atone for his actions.
Piggybacking off what I said above, because the Jedi are paranoid about emotions leading to the Dark Side, the idea of emotional attachments is frowned upon and forbidden. They see it as a potential weakness and fear that it will lead a Jedi to forsake their duty if it meant rescuing someone they loved. In my honest opinion, though, I think the whole thing’s poodoo.
Yes, people can make rash decisions when our loved ones are on the line. That said, most of the Jedi fail to realize that bonds between loved ones does more good than harm. Love is one of the most positive emotions that a sentient being can feel, be it love for a friend, a family member, or partner. That love can, in turn, serve as an anchor to keep a Jedi from falling to the Dark Side. Both in canon and in the Expanded Universe, love has actually helped several Jedi come back from the darkness.
I think the problem isn’t necessarily attachments. I think the true problem is that Jedi don’t know how to deal with pain and loss, and thus they embrace their inner darkness. In the Expanded Universe, Luke Skywalker recognizes this mistake of the old Jedi Order. Given his own experiences with the redemptive power of love and attachment, Luke thus allowed the New Jedi Order to marry and raise families. Hopefully, Rey or someone else will do the same if they rebuild the Jedi.
Believing Those Fell to the Dark Side were Iredeemable
In the original trilogy, both Obi-Wan and Yoda told Luke that trying to bring his father back from the darkness was impossible. This attitude was a reflection of the Jedi’s deeply entrenched belief that the Dark Side was something to be destroyed on sight. As a result, they saw anyone who fell into its grasp as beyond saving and must be destroyed. Yet as we saw, Luke proved them both wrong when Anakin chose to save his son’s life.
Looking back on the films, I realize that Obi-Wan and Yoda gave up on Anakin too easily. As is often the case in real life, anyone is capable of changing for the better. They need only be willing to let that happen. While Anakin remains the best example, Star Wars is filled with examples of Jedi who fell to the Dark Side but redeemed themselves. In other words, that whole “forever will it dominate your destiny” stuff is bantha poodoo. Not even Yoda knows everything.
We Still Need the Jedi
I could going about all the screw-ups the Jedi have made, both in the EU and in Disney’s canon, but I think you got the picture. The Jedi Order was a flawed organization that messed up a lot. From a certain point of view, you can see why Luke thought the Jedi had to end with him.
Here’s what I have to say: screw that.
The Jedi aren’t perfect. They let the Sith rise to power, they had no idea how to handle negative emotions, and they thought love was the root of evil. That doesn’t change the fact that when they were doing what they’re supposed to and helping others, they did a great job. The Galaxy saw them as symbols of justice and hope. No matter what Luke may have thought of them in The Last Jedi, that doesn’t change the fact that the Galaxy needed the Jedi to come back. As long as there are jerks who want to use the Force to bully others, the Jedi need to be there.
In other words, I hope that The Rise of Skywalker sees Rey do what should have been done a long time ago: bring back the Jedi.
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I wouldn’t exactly call Vader being redeemed in ROTJ. Him deciding to be good again doesn’t erase the horrors he committed over the decades.
But I think the point Lucas was making was that anyone can change for the better.
If Rey rebuilds the Jedi after Skywalker, I hope she learns from these mistakes. If not, then I’m out
In hindsight, I think Obi-Wan was saying Anakin couldn’t be saved because he felt personally betrayed by the man he called his little brother.
I have to agree that the Jedi completely abandoning emotional attachment is only going to breed infighting eventually, a great read!
In the Expanded Universe, Luke even acknowledges how that was a mistake and lifts that restriction.
Yep, I miss old cannon Luke 😭