The Jedi symbolise all that is good and noble and chivalrous and pure. They are the knights with shining lightsabers - chosen by the Force. The best of us. The Force is strong with them. And so they become the guardians for the greater good. They are sworn to a personal code, that transcends the power of any law. They are motivated by something within, for the good of something without. They are monks. They are warriors.
They have chosen detachment over desire, love over fear and hope over despair. They stay the path, even in the face of resistance.
C S Lewis could have been writing of them:
“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”
Perhaps the strongest and most compelling theme from Star Wars is the tale of the Jedis.
There is Yoda - The wisest of them all. The smallest of them all. The strongest of them all. “Judge me by my size do you.” opens us to the secret of the Jedi - that power, real power, is not from bodily strength, or mental agility but from a Spirit, rooted in the Force.
Yoda is not just a Jedi Master but a Jedi Maker. He senses rather than sees, he is rather than does. Yoda has long served as the template for coach and guru that management and movies coveted. He is the pinnacle of Jedi-hood - power clothed in humility and self-awareness.
They are motivated by something within, for the good of something without.
Luke Skywalker betrays the confusion of his past. He is strengthened by faith one moment, then best by doubt. He lifts pebbles with ease but balks at the task of raising the ship. He is eager to learn but stubborn and rebellious.
In many ways, Luke is the journey we see closest to ours. We connect most with his yearning, his goodness living in the constant shadow of who his father is.
Obi-Wan is the embodiment of nobility and purity. He sees good because he is good. He trusts. He obeys. But for those who think he is a Jedi pushover, the steel of his courage shines through. Whether pitching himself into the middle of battle with General Grievous or pursuing the unpleasant task of confronting his protege, Obi-Wan is faithful to the task.
Each of these Jedis gives us a peek at the character of the Force. The promise of what is possible for mere mortals. But as in the oldest battle of Paradise Lost - where angels tread, demons lurk close behind.
Every Gabriel is condemned to confront a Lucifer. As C S Lewis put it: “It is not out of bad mice or bad fleas that you make demons but out of bad archangels.”
And so the Dark side pulls the same Jedis. Every Jedi would have heard its seductive voice, every Jedi would have felt the tug of its temptation. Some have fought it off, not through battle but simply through sightseeing the truth behind the illusion. Some fall for the illusion and like Ronin without a master, become samurai on the run - shorn of purpose and now unsheathed swords, prone to machinations of the puppeteer from the Dark side.
Anakin Skywalker descends from noble knight and dashing warrior to a power-hungry Darth Vader. We are taken by his passion, the strength of his love, his skill as a Padawan destined for great things. And then we see the slow unrelenting slide into a bloodlust that destroys him until his son hands him a chance at redemption.
Count Dooku preceded him as a Jedi who chose wrong, Ben Solo succeeds him as the torn Kylo Ren. In each of them, we see the promise and the potential. And then we feel that gnawing sense of loss and regret as each of them makes choices that set them on the path of no return. President Bartlet from the West Wing spoke for us: “Corruptio optimi pessima. The corruption of the best is the worst.”