Star Wars: the Why of the Jedi

So I was thinking way too much about Star Wars (like you do) and I got to thinking about the rather weird philosophy of the Jedi. You don’t see a lot of other good guys in fiction or in reality that take young children from their parents and raise them to embrace a life of monastic self-denial, including the denial of all negative emotions, no matter the situation. However, I think I found a way to make sense of it all.

Clearly having force abilities is genetic. All living things contain Midi-chlorians, and once the number reaches a certain threshold in a sentient being, that being becomes able to access special abilities. Midi-chlorian counts are heritable, in roughly the same way that height is heritable: sometimes a tall child can be born of two shorter parents (a force mutant (FM) being born to two non-force capable parents), but generally the taller the parent, the taller the child. Having force powers is obviously a big advantage for anyone, so high midi-chlorian counts will be selected for, and the number of FMs, as well as the power of the strongest FMs, will grow and grow.

This would all be fine and dandy except for one other thing that is made very clear: the force is dangerous. Any negative emotion that an FM feels warps their mind and brings them closer to full-on psychosis, AKA “the dark side.” We see this in the prequel series, where Anakin’s perfectly justified fear and anger transform into a willingness to slaughter children and conquer the galaxy alarmingly quickly. In order to maintain their sanity, FMs must be constantly on the alert, tamping down negative emotions lest they tip over the edge and go berserk.

Now imagine a world (or galaxy) where these FMs exist. A mostly psychotic race of super-humans are wandering around doing whatever they damn well please, and no doubt having a lot of kids with each other and random bystanders (they are psychos with mind control powers after all), which means that there are more and more of them every generation. Some FMs might be friendly and try to protect the normals, but they are generally weaker than their dark side counterparts because of all the effort needed to control themselves, and they are of course vulnerable to going over to the dark side themselves whenever they fear for their loved one’s lives or are angry about some new dark side atrocity. The only protection people have is that the dark siders are not exactly well organized, and are as likely to fight each other as anyone else.

So given this situation, how do you solve the force problem? Ultimately, it would be ideal to eliminate FMs entirely, but it seems that the only way to effectively fight FMs is with other FMs, so you can’t just have a crusade of normals fighting FMs. Instead, you get any light siders you have on your side, and set up a new organization. The first tenet of this organization is obviously that FMs should not have children. Producing more potential monsters is counter-productive. This works out well, because the second key goal is to keep everybody sane and away from the dark side. Since any negative emotion is dangerous, it’s important to reduce the emotional ties of your FMs. FM children are taken away from their families as early as possible to prevent emotional ties there, and then forbidden to marry or have children. With these restrictions, plus a strict code of conduct and constant warnings about the danger of the dark side, you have a reliable organized group of non-crazy FMs. This group is named the Jedi.

Once you have this organization, it would be a shame to waste your super-humans on sitting around in a monastery. Instead, they can be put to use making the galaxy a better place, specifically by fighting the dark siders. Since the dark siders are disunited, they start to fall fairly easily to the less individually powerful, but better organized and not crazy Jedi. However, as this goes on the dark siders figure out that there is a very real threat here, and band together for mutual protection, calling themselves the Sith.

The Jedi and Sith fight for a long time, with the Jedi eventually winning largely because of the constant betrayals and infighting among the Sith. A single surviving Sith vows revenge and goes into hiding, deciding on a rule of ‘one master, one apprentice’ in order to prevent the betrayals that doomed his side before.

Now the Jedi are the dominant force users in the galaxy, but there is still work to do. Assuming they can effectively detect and train a large percentage of the galaxy’s force users, and effectively kill or detain those who don’t cooperate, they can gradually reduce the number of FMs who are born at all, until there are only the relatively weak first generation FMs that are always going to be thrown up by non-FM parents. The Jedi continue this slow breeding program, while throwing their energies into being general good guy guardians of the galaxy, protecting the innocent and all that jazz.

Fast forward thousands of years to around the time of the Star Wars movies, and these efforts have born fruit. There are far fewer Jedi than there were in the old days, and they are relatively weak. FMs are very rare, with most people having never even seen someone use force powers. Most Jedi aren’t even aware of the true reason for their order’s existence, they just continue to follow the ancient code out of habit and organizational inertia. Of course it’s likely that some of the most senior Jedi, most notably one Master Yoda, are aware of their history. However, even they now care more about the survival of the order itself and the current state of galactic politics than they do about reducing the FM population. Anakin manages to get married, and even worse, have children, and while his superiors seem vaguely disapproving, they don’t take any action to prevent it.

Now of course we have the events of the movie series, with Palpatine as the last in a long line of Sith who have been in hiding ever since the great war attacking and destroying the Jedi order, and taking over the galaxy now that there are no Jedi, and thanks to the Jedi, no rival dark siders, to challenge him. Of course the last dregs of the Jedi manage to defeat the Sith, and all seems well. In fact, the galactic civil war has left the galaxy with fewer FMs than ever, with both the Sith and the Jedi almost annihilated, and many people as of A New Hope not even believing they exist.

However, there is a problem. Luke has decided to reform the Jedi order as a force for good in the galaxy. However, he is barely trained, and knows nothing about the secret history of the order. He certainly will not make any effort to stop his sister from having children with Han, and is unlikely to follow that particular rule himself when the right girl comes along (Mara Jade…) The force ghosts of Yoda and Obi Wan could tell him, but they have already shown their willingness to sacrifice the original Jedi principals in order to promote the superficial existence of the order. With no one to remember why the Jedi order needed to exist in the first place, and only a simplistic ‘light side’ vs. ‘dark side’ understanding of how the force effects the mind, it’s likely that future generations of Skywalkers will be ready to break more of the seemingly archaic and restrictive rules of the old order. The long, slow, reduction in FM numbers will start to reverse itself, and the galaxy will be back where it started all those thousands of years ago, dominated by an ever growing number of incredibly powerful and generally psychotic force mutants.

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