The tragedy of the Jedi is greater than simply their mass genocide at the hands of one of their own. It's also heartbreaking to see how their work, lives, and love is erased from the galaxy. As part of his rise to power, Emperor Palpatine vilifies the Jedi, turning the galaxy against them so that there is nowhere safe, nowhere sacred.
By the time we reach the sequel trilogy, Rey only recalls the Jedi as myths and make-believe. The stories she's heard are full of contradiction and falsehood. So thorough was the Emperor in his slander that our view of the Jedi Order has become skewed even in real life.
Here are ten myths about the Jedi Order that Palpatine would like you to believe but which are simply not true.
The Jedi Are Baby Snatchers
While training to become a Jedi knight does begin at a young age, they do not steal them from their parents. This vicious rumor originally started as a piece of Separatist propaganda. During the Clone Wars, one famous Separatist rallying point was the story of Baby Ludi.
Ludi was a Force-sensitive child who the Jedi Order formally adopted after they found her orphaned in the wake of a disaster on her homeworld. Her mother, Jonava Billane, was discovered to be still alive months later. Billane tried to sue for custody, but her suit was denied.
At first glance, this might suggest some merit to the rumor, but that's not the whole story. It eventually came out that Billane was not so much desperate to regain custody of her daughter as she was to turn a profit from her account.
She signed away rights to a holofilm production and was later said to be too busy watching auditions and perusing contracts to bother with her daughter at all. In the end, Billane pursued the case no further than it took to guarantee she could profit from the fame it brought her.
If this were the only example of how the Jedi recruit their members, then perhaps it would be cause enough for doubt, but this story sticks out precisely because it is such an aberration. Much more consistent with Jedi recruitment policies is the story of Wee Dunn.
Listed in an inventory of Force-sensitive children the Jedi might seek out, Palpatine kidnapped Wee Dunn as a part of one of his evil schemes. However, the baby's parents said they did not want to give their child up to the Jedi. Despite this, the Jedi still help bring him home.
Instead of snatching him up against his will, the Jedi return Wee Dunn to his parents with no expectation that he ever come to the Jedi Temple.
The Order (and Obi-Wan) Failed Anakin
There are not many moments more iconic in Star Wars than Obi-Wan's victory over Anakin Skywalker on the banks of Mustafar. As Anakin prepares to make his final attack, fully expecting to cut down his master, Obi-Wan apologizes, saying, “I have failed you.”
Obi-Wan could be referring to any number of things, but most often, people think it is an admission of guilt. He was too cold, and the Order was too unyielding. Qui-Gon Jinn was better suited to raising the Chosen One. Anakin just needed a daddy.
But none of that is a fair assessment of Obi-Wan's apology.
The tragedy of Anakin's life is that, while there were many mitigating factors, ultimately, he was the only one responsible for his fall. He made a choice and continued to make a choice. George Lucas explains that Anakin's problem is, in fact, his greed. In the Attack of the Clones DVD commentary, he says that Anakin is “greedy in that he wants to become more powerful in order to control things to keep the things around that he wants.”
Not a lack of training, love, or support pushes him over the edge, but his own need to possess the things he fears losing most. And no one is responsible for that but him.
Obi-Wan's failure exists only in his mind. He is sorry he didn't see Anakin slip. He is sorry he couldn't help him. He is sorry that he wasn't there to save Anakin from himself.
But Anakin knows it isn't Obi-Wan's fault. He tells him so. “You didn't kill Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan. I did.”
Relationships are Forbidden
Relationships are not forbidden. The truth is, the Jedi depend on their bonds to each other. Masters spend years training their padawans, raising them from childhood to become fully-fledged knights. Those knights go on to have their own padawans, and much like we might track our family tree, the Jedi each have a distinct lineage.
They also use terms more familiar to us when defining their relationships. For example, Anakin refers openly to Obi-Wan as being “like a father,” while the climax of Revenge of the Sith sees Obi-Wan declaring his love for Anakin and calling him his “brother.”
There are blood siblings in the Order as well. Tiplee and Tiplar, two Mikkian masters who appear in The Clone Wars, were sisters by birth, and Adi Gallia was the cousin of Stass Allie. They kept these familial ties despite being Jedi.
But if you want to focus on romantic relationships, consider the examples of Obi-Wan and Satine, Quinlan Vos and Ventress, or even Ahsoka and Lux Bontari.
After all, relationships are not the problem, but committing to an individual above all else. Relationships are necessary. The whole Order relies on them.
The Jedi Were Corrupt
In the book Star Wars Propaganda, Pablo Hidalgo gives us some fascinating insight into wartime perspectives on the Jedi. He tells us that because the Jedi eschewed the limelight, the Separatists could say anything and everything about the Order with impunity. “Anti-Jedi sentiment,” he says, “was more a product of their cultural absence rather than a refutation of anything substantive.”
The idea that they were corrupt is merely an extension of this idea. It is one we see fully realized at the end of Revenge of the Sith when Palpatine stands before the Senate a proclaims the Jedi traitors. But this is pure invention! Palpatine needed to justify his extermination of the Jedi to validate his rise to Emperor. So he lied.
It is possible to suggest that Palpatine corrupted the Force itself. We hear Jedi speak about how difficult it is to feel and understand, especially on Coruscant, where Palpatine's dark presence is thickest. Perhaps the Temple was crippled by this, maybe they compromised their ideology, or individual Jedi fell beneath the shadow of the Sith, but the Order itself was pure.
The Order Was a Cult
As easy as it is in our modern age to imagine any insular, exclusive religion to be a cult, the Jedi Order doesn't meet the criteria to be considered one.
First, it's not entirely sure that the Jedi even worship the Force. They listen to it and try to follow its will, but do they pray to it? Do they make sacrifices or give offerings to it? There is, instead, a significant lack of divinity placed upon the Force. Instead, the Jedi stress its ubiquity. It's in everything and everyone.
Furthering this is the brief glimpses of other cultural traditions coexisting with Jedi practices. Barriss Offee meditates before a Mirialan idol. Ahsoka Tano participates in a traditional Togrutan coming-of-age ceremony. Many Jedi wear clothing that reflects their heritage better than the typical beige robes, and often those are modified to display the wearer's personal preferences.
This open expression of personality, desire, and practice is hardly in line with the restrictive and isolating policies distinct to cults. On the contrary, the Jedi Order is a group of like-minded individuals brought together by a shared belief but made different by how they express it.
Those Who Leave the Jedi are Disgraced
It's dramatic, sure, but the films don't support the idea that the Jedi who left the Order did so out of shame. The contrary is much more likely. Part of being a Jedi is knowing yourself sincerely and honestly. It's possible that the Order celebrated those who quit for having the strength to leave everything they knew behind.
The busts of ex-Jedi on display in the Archives at the Temple support this possibility. In a deleted scene, Jedi Jocasta Nu tells Obi-Wan about Dooku, whose statue they study. Dooku is one of the “Lost Twenty” – the small group of Jedi who left after growing disillusioned with the Jedi.
Instead of the bitterness we might expect, Master Nu speaks of Dooku fondly. Indeed, the Council talks about Dooku with respect and trust. They cannot believe he'd fall to the dark side and continue to defend him until his villainy is too apparent to ignore.
There Can be Grey Jedi
The dark side is selfish and indulgent. The light side is self-sacrificing and forgiving. There is no room for vengeance or anger, but these feelings are natural and beg to be expressed. It's tempting to think there could be some way to thread the needle and walk both paths.
Imagine a Jedi who does not let offenses pass without answering them. Who gets angry about injustice and fights back. He defends those he loves and finds a balance between the dark and light.
Unfortunately, that's not possible with the Force. George Lucas states, “The Force has two sides – [Light and Dark]. It is not an inherently malevolent or a benevolent thing. It has a bad side to it, involving hate and fear, and it has a good side, involving love, charity, fairness, and hope.”
There can be no Grey Jedi because there is no grey path. It is black and white. Good and evil. The balance is following the light and turning your back to the dark.
A Jedi Does Not Kill
The Jedi, sadly, is not Batman. They have no rule about refraining from killing people – at least, not the way Batman does. But, because they cleave to the light, they make every effort to extend compassion and eliminate harm. Unfortunately, they may have to choose between one injury and another bigger one.
The Jedi do kill, but they do not murder.
That distinction is crucial. Though the Jedi make every effort to preserve life, they can and will kill when pushed to it. After all, one of the most sacred symbols of their Order is a weapon. A lightsaber is deadly, and mastery of it is simply leashing that power through self-control and restraint.
To use it to kill is a conscious and skillful act. That is how the Jedi measure themselves. The decision to kill is unrighteous if the intent is motivated by fear, anger, or selfish desire. By taking pleasure in the act, they have touched the dark, and forever will it dominate their destiny.
Obi-Wan and Yoda Wanted Luke to Kill Vader
The Jedi have indeed suffered at Vader's hands. Vader has brought terror and violence to bear upon the entire galaxy. It's true that in the end, even Obi-Wan had given up on Anakin (or is it?), but it's not true that Yoda and Obi-Wan expected or even wanted Luke to kill Darth Vader.
That misconception is easy enough to make. Half of The Empire Strikes Back is dedicated to Luke's training in the Force, preparing him to confront Vader when the time comes. But right there is the key word: confront.
As George Lucas clarified in The Making of Return of the Jedi, “the mission isn't for Luke to go out and kill his father and get rid of him. The issue is, if he confronts his father again, he may, in defending himself, have to kill him”. Luke's narrow and inexperienced insistence that Anakin will not kill him worries Yoda and Obi-Wan. He refuses to acknowledge the possibility that he will have to kill Vader and instead runs headlong into a confrontation he cannot hope to win.
The remaining Jedi don't wish for Anakin's death. Instead, they want to prepare Luke for the cost he might pay. A cost both of them have already paid many times over.
Attachment Does Not Equal Love
A Jedi shall not know anger, nor hatred…nor love.
This phrase is excellent marketing but a wholly inaccurate representation of the truth. Attachment being synonymous with love is probably the most enduring myth about the Jedi, and it comes down to a simple misunderstanding of terms. George Lucas defines compassion as “selfless love” and attachment as “selfish love.” The Jedi, he says, “can love, but they can't love people to the point of obsession.”
Anakin knows this and defines it for us. In Attack of the Clones, Padmé asks, “Are you allowed to love? I thought attachment was forbidden for a Jedi”. Anakin clarifies that “attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is central to a Jedi's life, so you might say we're encouraged to love.”
This line is often referenced as proof of the Jedi's lack of love, abridged after he admits attachment is an anathema to the Jedi. However, the definition of attachment as being synonymous with being fond of or preferring something or someone is not in line with the way George Lucas uses it.
We see proof of this in how fond Anakin and Obi-Wan are of each other, how Obi-Wan dedicates his life to safeguarding Anakin's children, and how, even after everything, Obi-Wan is waiting to welcome Anakin to the other side.
Perhaps it's not romantic, but that kind of love is still strong enough to set the stars on fire.
For Light and Life
While the Jedi were not perfect individuals, they were definitely the good guys. Their loss enabled Palpatine to spread whatever lies about them he desired, and no one remained to refute them.
But by digging a little deeper and doing our research and fact-checking, we can see that most of these myths are just rumors and fake news. Palpatine's darkness is only a veil drawn across the light of truth. Together, we can pull it back and let the light shine through.
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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Image Courtesy of Walt Disney World News.
Hannah is a fangirl born of fangirls. As a child, she lived vicariously through her favorite stories, but as an adult, she became an actor so she could live them directly. A graduate of the University of Toronto and Sheridan College, Hannah has a deep love of storytelling and analysis. Having gotten her start in writing as a young book critic, she is excited to be expanding into the world of freelancing and fandom content.