Philosophy – The Dark Side IS Stronger (Yoda Was Wrong)

Star Wars has a kind of magic that few other movies, if any, can replicate. They are simple movies, with simple premises, simple rules, and simple outcomes. Usually, those things are grounds for a movie to be terrible, by default, yet Star Wars makes it work. The franchise is 14 years older than I am, there hasn’t been a good Star Wars movie made since 1983, and yet I’ve always had a love for Star Wars and always will.

Good versus evil. The Light side versus the Dark side. Star Wars has never been nuanced with who we ought to root for. Basically, if you belong to the Light side, you are objectively, empirically ‘good.’ The opposite is true for the Dark side. But, this isn’t how real life works. Morality is subjective by culture, and by individual standards. The set of principles that I personally have probably, at least slightly, vary from yours. The Force is the base religion for the Star Wars universe. And it’s real, in that universe. Here in real life, we have religions based on stories people wrote thousands of years ago. But, even if the Force was real in the real world, ‘good’ and ‘evil’ would still be more complicated than just simply who belongs to which side of the Force.

How do I know that? Because Star Wars itself indirectly acknowledged this with the entire plot of the prequel trilogy. George Lucas has stated that Anakin turned to the Dark side to do a good thing. “Evil people never think of themselves as evil.” That is a very nuanced and true statement. Plus, in Star Wars, there are still, you know, wars going on. It’s in the name. People fight different causes for different reasons. The Light side of the Force doesn’t mind control people to fight each other any more than the Dark side does. People simply choose to use one side of the Force versus the other for a multitude of reasons. Anakin wanted to end the Clone wars, end supposed corruption within the Jedi Order, and save his wife from death. Good intentions, evil execution.

So, in a way, ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are just as complicated and nuanced concepts in Star Wars as in real life. And here’s where I get to my main point…

In real life, AND in Star Wars, destruction is more powerful than conservation. Think of buildings. Difficult and laborious to construct, but it only takes minutes (hours at most) to tear them down. A single meteor killed all the dinosaurs. A single disease killed 1/3rd of Europe’s entire population during the 1300s.

Life is delicate. We are all born helpless, defenseless, ignorant, and fragile. It takes years for us to grow, to learn how to defend ourselves, and then to be capable of teaching others to do the same. But, it only takes a moment, from a multitude of possible sources, to end a life.

In real life, and in Star Wars, the Dark side is more powerful. Yoda was wrong.

What Yoda should have said is that the Dark side cannot preserve anything. He could even have said that the Dark side couldn’t exist without the Light. You cannot have anything to destroy (the Dark) if there was nothing there in the first place. In real life, shadows only exist because of light, so it’s basically the same.

I used to always think about what even defines ‘evil.’ The answer I arrived at, which may or may not be objectively true, is that ‘evil’ is: Anything that destroys unnecessarily, especially of living beings.

But, you cannot have anything new without tearing down the old, partially or completely. Cells in our bodies die every single day and get replaced by new cells. We’d shrivel up and stiffen into statues if this process never happened. It’s how our bodies age slowly, rather than quickly like most everything else. As another example, we get rid of our old beds to sleep on new ones, we get rid of old TVs to enjoy better ones, etc., etc. If you only preserve, you hoard and therefore leave no room for improvement or even the space to exist. If you only destroy, you end up eliminating everything there was. Regardless of whether you’re talking about biology, luxury, or anything in between, this is true. The universe requires balance.

Interesting thought: The universe is infinitely expanding, right? In essence, that means the universe exists infinitely. So, if an infinite number of things exist, does that mean there are an equal number of things that don’t exist? Just a thought.

If the Disney Star Wars sequel trilogy wasn’t complete garbage, we would have seen this nuance in the Force play a real role in the movies for the first time. Instead, all we got were throwaway lines like, “See? Powerful light, powerful darkness,” which ultimately had nothing to do with anything. Then we got Kylo Ren saying, “It’s time to let old things die,” which also had nothing to do with anything. If the sequels went in any way that they should have gone, something like this would have happened:

A new villain rose up who primarily used the Light side of the Force. Yes, you read that right. A Light-side villain. How’s that for nuance? If Yoda knew what he was talking about when he told Luke in The Empire Strikes Back about the Light being stronger, then think of how interesting would it have been to have a villain who only used Light side abilities? Even though I disagree with Yoda, I still think that would be really interesting. But no, Disney instead decided to not even try and just give us a bunch of pointless shit.

Anyway, I’ve made my point. The Dark Side is stronger, but that doesn’t mean it’s better.


1 Comment

  1. In one paragraph you say, “The Light side versus the Dark side. Star Wars has never been nuanced with who we ought to root for. Basically, if you belong to the Light side, you are objectively, empirically ‘good.’ The opposite is true for the Dark side” and then later you say, “So, in a way, ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are just as complicated and nuanced concepts in Star Wars as in real life.”

    And you also say that morality is culturally subjective, but I would argue that ethics are far more universal than religious justifications for them. We let our imaginations run wild making up gods and demons and stuff, but most societies have a lot more in common when talking about right and wrong than they like to think. And they don’t like to think about it because they are so busy fighting over the imaginary gods and demons that they don’t want to acknowledge just how similar most ethical structures are.


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