Thoughts On Sith, Jedi and Redemption

CAUTION: What follows is a major digression from this website’s usual travel/adventure topics. But if you like Star Wars, this post will be a thought-provoking ride. Some of these thoughts contradict each other – but this is all just reflects my stream of consciousness and gives us a chance to talk about something fun. Enjoy!

One of my friends recently made a Facebook post with a Star Wars: The Force Awakens prediction – that Luke Skywalker would turn to the Dark Side. Sure enough, someone made a reference to Darth Vader being "redeemed." That led me down a rabbit hole of thoughts about redemption, motives and Sith Lords. Let’s have a look.

Why Did Darth Vader Save Luke?

Everyone assumes it was for love of his son – the son whose hand he severed, the son he was oh-so-close to shooting down over the first Death Star, the son whose junior-varsity T-16 races he’s never been to.

sithNo. I don’t care what he said in his dying moments. Vader acted out of hate for Darth Sidious and for his own ambition. Sidious engineered Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into Darth Vader, and Vader knew it. Sidious brought about the death of his wife, the loss of much of his Force sensitivity and the loss of his limbs (and at least one other appendage, and don’t think for a second that’s not humiliating and emasculating – just ask Theon Greyjoy). He forced Vader into a hideously uncomfortable armored suit that he needed to survive. He made Vader dependent on him for nearly everything. There was no love, no trust, no camaraderie at all between these two Sith. Vader loathed Sidious for all that happened to him.

Luke and his still-developing powers were Vader’s ticket out from under Sidious’ thumb, possibly even out of the suit that tortured him every moment of every day. And what better final "peace out, sucka" to Sidious than Luke enabling Vader to become the senior Sith?

A good baptism washed Delmar’s sins away. What’s it take for a Sith to get a clean slate?

Luke thought he could "feel the good" in Vader. But maybe what he detected was Vader’s willingness to usurp Sidious. A good act, sure. But a sign of more good acts to come? I have a hard time accepting that Vader would’ve renounced his Sith name, re-assumed his Anakin persona and gone on to a virtuous post-Sith life.

Can a Sith Actually Be "Redeemed"?

OK, Darth Vader did something good by tossing Sidious down that shaft. Does that wash away his crimes? There might be more than one answer to this. Had Vader survived his injuries and been brought before a New Republic tribunal for war crimes, my bet is an emphatic "Oh, hell, no."

But the remaining Jedi -- how would they view it? Are Jedi like evangelical Christians, where you can be history’s biggest murderer and yet have your immortal slate washed away by turning to Jesus and writing a blank check to live the rest of your life righteously? I can’t answer that.

Nor can I answer what a Sith would need to do to turn away from the Dark Side. Something tells me, though, that one good act couldn’t – in the eyes of the surviving Jedi or the New Republic – wash away the mop-up of the Jedi who survived Order 66, Alderaan and who knows how many other acts of mass and one-on-one murder.

And that, Padawans, is why we avoid anger, fear and aggression.

And Something Else

Yoda clearly said "once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny."

Now, that means jack and squat to me. The prequels reveal Yoda to be an out-of-touch, arrogant, catchphrase-gushing phlegmwad. If Yoda hadn’t been marinating in his aura of wisdom like a two-bit Croatian faith healer, he might’ve noticed a Sith Lord twerking the Jedi Council AND the Republic right under his nose.

So that whole "forever" stuff is probably more nonsense that he cooked up to frighten Padawans from thinking bad thoughts. If anything, that makes think a Sith could actually turn away from the Dark Side.

If Vader Had Lived By the Jedi Way, Luke Would Be Dead

How many warning did Anakin Skywalker receive about attachment? "Be mindful, Anakin. Miss them do not. Mourn them do not." And so on.

Did Darth Vader learn his lesson? It’s easy to say no – that his attachment to Luke motivated him to rebel against Darth Sidious.

On the other hand, if he’d acted as a Jedi should, he would’ve let Luke die. So, to perform the good act of saving his son, he had to act out of attachment -- like a Sith.

That’s All I Got

I hope you had fun joining me for a few random and oddball Star Wars thoughts. I can’t remember ever hearing anyone say anything like this before, so I thought it might be fun. Throw your comments in – I’m not offended by people who disagree. I just like talking to people who like some of the same things that I do. I’d love to hear some other thoughts about Star Wars that haven’t occurred to me.

Going to Flagstaff? Don’t Miss Sunset Crater & Wupatki

A few years ago, Sarah and I were riding in the Taylor House Century bike ride in the 60-mile group. I didn’t know much about the route, but it took us through Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, which has a road that also goes to the Wupatki Ruins.

We’d already had plenty of excitement – I survived someone crashing right in front of me and falling right into my front wheel, but we’ll save that story for another time. Let’s just say I pulled off some sort of move straight out of The Matrix to keep the rubber side down. (Actually, the moment was pretty rife with cinematic parallel, now that I think of it. For instance, the protagonist in Shaolin Soccer would insist that I must’ve studied kung fu all my life. Darth Vader would say that the Force was strong with this one. Commander Data would chalk it up to a rift in the space-time continuum, and Dante from Clerks would tell me I’m not even supposed to be here today.)

About 15 miles after that craziness, Sarah and I were between a bunch of packs of riders. We were pedaling up the road that leads to Sunset Crater, and we still didn’t have a clear view of the crater.

But then we came around a corner and saw a blackened vista of dry lava stretching before us … and it was absolutely amazing. We could barely keep our eyes on the road as we passed the lava field and splatter cones. I was dumbstruck that I’d lived in Arizona since I was six, and had never been here. Don’t be like me: Make this a priority stop.

We loved it so much that we came the next day. We also went further down the road to the Wupatki Ruins, which are awesome. You can check out three different sets of ruins at various points. The largest one has this little blow hole … during some parts of the year, this hole sucks air in; in the summer, it blows cool air out! Perfect for those hot days … Sarah was surprised the ruling class didn’t build their pad right on top of it! In a future post, I’ll give you the lowdown on the Taylor House Century.

This is the crater itself … awesome, eh?                                                                                                                     From crater
Another View             From crater
One of the bigger ruins                              From crater
This is a blow hole!                  From crater
Jagged cooled lava                 From crater
A red splatter cone                       From crater