Understanding balance in the universe of Star Wars
August 9th 2022 on Dušan's blog
The concept of balance is present in the universe of Star Wars as one of its central themes. But what does this balance entail exactly? When the Jedi talk of balancing the Force, they don't mean keeping the light and dark in check with each other, they mean the annihilation of the dark side in its entirety.
Balance, from a certain point of view
In the view of the Jedi, the dark side of the Force is associated with fear, anger and hate. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate inevitably leads to suffering. The Jedi, Padawan and Master alike, must constantly strive to maintain vigilance lest they risk falling to the dark side, which is understood as being seductive.
What the Jedi view as the "true" Force is what we understand to be the light side. The dark side is thus a perversion of this otherwise pure and good energy of life, not merely another one of its aspects. To bring balance to the Force is thus to destroy this perversion, and the people who've been forever "corrupted" by its allure.
A different view, there is
As stated, fear, anger and hate are of the dark side. But it must be noted that the Jedi are the only ones insisting on this interpretation. The Jedi are pointlessly clinging to their dualistic interpretation of the light and the dark and, indeed, of good and evil. What makes the dark side so appealing is that it plays off of what is deeply embedded in all of us, what arguably makes us human, our emotions.
What turns Anakin, the chosen one, to the dark side is not the desire for power, it's the desire to save the one he loves, his wife, the wife he was never meant to have as a Jedi. His turn to the dark side is thus made easier, as his fear of losing Padme serves as a catalyst in his decision making process. The desire for power appears later, when his overconfidence in his newly acquired dark side abilities leads him to believe he can reshape the galaxy in his image.
It's easy to frame this sequence of events as proof of the inherent evil present in the dark side of the Force, but, looked another way this is just a consequence of the misguided dogmatism in the mindset of the Jedi. Had they allowed Anakin, and by extension the rest of the Jedi, to understand their emotions instead of putting them aside, the fear Anakin felt in losing the ones he loves would be replaced with the calm, calculated thinking that is required to keep those emotions in check.
Balance, as we all understand it
If we stick to the traditional interpretation of balance, then what we observe in the universe of Star Wars isn't really balance at all. The light and the dark are really just different aspects of the same thing, different sides of the same coin. To keep the Force balanced is thus to keep its aspects in line with each other, contrary to the understanding of the Jedi and, to a lesser extent, the Star Wars universe at large. This idea, the inherent dualism of good and evil embedded in the universe, is detrimental to our understanding of the real world, where things are much more nuanced than people being agents of either. People do what they do for a myriad of different reasons, some good, some bad, but never exclusively one or the other.
The key takeaway of this article is that balance as the Jedi understand it, rests on a fundamentally dualistic interpretation of good and evil. The light side is the proper, good and the true Force that permeates all living things and shapes the universe. The dark side is but a perversion of this fundamentally good energy and is to be destroyed, to bring order and balance to the universe.
I hope I managed to shake this interpretation somewhat with my take on the subject. With things in the real world often being far more complex than what is presented in the show. Or maybe I'm reading too much into this children's show? You be the judge of that. 🙂