Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Yoda (Star Wars Character Thoughts)

More Thoughts: Intro, C3PO, R2D2, Qui-Gon, Obi Wan, Anakin, Padme, Han, Chewy, The Emperor, Yoda, Vader, Luke

Contrary to what most people think, Yoda’s is to a large degree a story of failure. He is assumed to be a wise teacher and leader because he is playing the archetypal role of the wizened old mentor, but that is really subverted over the course of the saga. And, coming from the generation that used to chant “trust no one over thirty” it is not that surprising.

When we first meet Yoda (in the way the story is told, not following the internal chronology) he is the perfect example of how we should not prejudge people. He is an annoying little fool that Luke encounters on his quest to find a “great warrior.” It turns out, he is the very warrior that Luke is seeking. Then, over the course of that middle act in “The Empire Strikes Back” he proceeds to spout a lot of wise sounding Buddhist philosophy that doesn’t necessarily add up. “Do or do not, there is no try” is a stupid statement when you really stop and think about it. Later he insists that Luke should not help his friends, and that if he goes he will never become a Jedi Knight. Wrong on both accounts.

So, Yoda is that lesson. You should not assume based on face value. Even when we think we are told that Yoda is the infallible, wise, wizard that proves wrong. In the prequels we realize that the Jedi were an order living in a literal ivory tower, out of touch with reality and enabling the downfall of the Republic they were sworn to protect. Yoda knows enough to have the customary, Star Wars, “bad feeling” about what is going on, but fails to detect the evil developing right under his nose.

Much of what Yoda and the Jedi teach is solid advice. Rejecting fear and hate in favor of faith and trust is a good maxim to live one’s life by, but it proves less than successful when facing evil forces determined to destroy a society, culture, or world. It is only after Yoda is vanquished that he takes a hard look at how wrong he really was and helps Luke stumble upon the gamble of a plan to face and defeat such an evil…

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