Council of Fools – A Guest Blog by Imani Caradonna

Council of Fools – A Guest Blog by Imani Caradonna

Council of Fools
A Guest Blog by Imani Caradonna

Obi-Wan Kenobi: “I have failed you Anakin. I have failed you.” ~Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

For years we have been made aware of the dynamic and complex nature of the Jedi and the Sith. It’s not difficult to see flaws in the purity of the Jedi and the humanity in the darkness of the Sith. For Anakin Skywalker, this hazy cross-section of morality is where he found himself. There, juxtaposed between two force-wielding sects, he encountered his frailty. In Episode III, his master, Obi-Wan, admits that he failed his vexed padawan. However, the blame was not Obi-Wan’s alone. The Jedi council in its entirety had gone astray and led Anakin down the dark path while making a weak attempt to prevent its collapse. As difficult as it seems, the council could not protect Anakin from himself. Instead, they fueled their own destruction with hypocrisy and a lack of integrity.

Anakin never felt welcome in the Jedi order. It goes without saying that his ego was a problem and it might have been inflated by the talk of prophecy. However, this young boy was not nurtured at all. His recruitment by Qui-Gon was against the recommendation of the council. This created tension among the ranks of the Jedi, and the disagreement wasn’t kept hidden from the young boys ears. He was present when the council refused him. Later in Anakin’s life he loses the only people who show him love (Shmi, Qui-Gon, Padme). The Jedi order doesn’t necessarily provide a sense of belonging. On the contrary, it continues to push the “detachment” agenda onto him, which isolates him even more.

The council pushed Anakin away even further when they offered him a seat but not the title of Master. This action was not only isolating and offensive. It was against the orthodox protocols of the Jedi order itself. The reasons behind this did not support their visage of nobility and honor either. So many decisions that the council made neglected the ever-growing confusion of Anakin and failed to nurture the light within him.

During Anakin’s time in the order, the example that the Jedi council set was not as infallible and pure as people like Obi-Wan would like to think. Beside the fact that most Jedi are accused of arrogance, the majority of the antagonists they face are created by the Jedi order itself. (i.e. Count Dooku, Vader, etc.) Moreover, the representation of the council by certain members like Mace Windu was undoubtedly hypocritical to Anakin. The fact that Mace decided in an instance that Palpatine did not deserve a trial and instead death, was the worst possible example for Anakin. This would be frustrating for anyone let alone a lost soul being manipulated by a Sith Lord.

Unanchored to any values or commitment to integrity, Anakin naturally decided to covet the only thing he knew best – himself (and in turn his future family). In so many ways, the council forced him down this path by constantly giving him nowhere to stand and call home (in terms of a foundation of values and truth). The only refuge he could grasp onto was Palpatine and the dark side. The need to let go of what he feared to lose the most was more of a “do as I say not as I do” demand as opposed to something that was demonstrated and fostered. In fact, the Jedi council failed to let go of their old ways and their place in this “democracy.”

Growing up with Episodes IV-VI it took an adjustment to see the Jedi in such a diplomatic position. It was difficult to go from such a sagest and deep philosophy in the swamps of Dagobah to a democratic and just stance in the plush temple on Coruscant. While many fans might have marveled at seeing so many Jedi with their different colored light sabers and acrobatic moves, I was disappointed with their lack of insight. It’s clear that something is clouding the instincts of the Jedi order. Not even grand master Yoda, with his experience and connection with the force could foresee the Sith’s plot and protect Anakin from his dark road. A small amount of tact and good parenting could have gone a long way with Anakin. Instead, he was continually fed restrictions and limits that perpetuated his isolation.

In the book, Aftermath: Life Debt, ex-imperial loyalty officer Sinjir Rath Velus ponders the fundamental difference between the Empire and the New Republic:

“In the Empire, you didn’t turn down an order…Here [The New Republic], though, individuality rules for the roost…You get to think you own thoughts. Do your own good.”

Assuming that the Jedi supported the Republic and democracy, I would personally challenge this façade of individuality within the order itself. Clearly, Anakin was unique in many ways. This originality was unaccepted by the council. This is, in fact, what led me to a very important question no one in the fandom of Star Wars seems to have an answer for – Who politicized the Jedi? Who was responsible for taking these once monk-like characters and turned them into blind clone-like generals that follow political orders?

This act (however long ago it was) led to their demise. The minute a Jedi philosophy mixes with a governmental agenda things get very cloudy. This cloudiness is what Darth Sidious thrived on and this is also where Anakin lost his way. The council could not help him because the council itself was lost. Therefore, while Palpatine reaped the fruits of the evil seeds he had planted in the order, Anakin remained untethered to any feeling of belonging. His allegiance to the Empire was ulterior from its conception. Anakin wanted to take the whole galaxy into his own hands and build that sense of home and oneness that he continually failed to receive from his so-called mentors.

Like anyone with the feeling of “their back against the wall,” Anakin did anything and everything he needed to in order to survive. He was a product of his environment. He was given the choice between the lesser of two evils. The Dark Side: fear, hate, anger, jealousy, or the path of the Jedi: arrogance, ignorance, stubbornness. Are the Jedi and Sith truly opposite ends of the spectrum? This is why I believe the politicization of the Jedi is a notable point in history. This is the moment the whole order stepped off the path of light and into the hands of their enemy. Therefore, the Jedicide that we think is completely on the conscience (if there is any left) of Anakin/Vader is truly shared if not mostly owned by the very individuals sworn to uphold and lead the Jedi order.

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  1. Abbas Mohamed
    March 13, 2017 at 16:28 Reply

    This was a tremendously satisfying read. For years I’ve been perplexed at the simplification of the Jedi vs Sith war into an ideological dichotomy of good vs evil when it was never black and white to begin with. I’ve had to justify my affiliation with Darth Vader which took the form of posters and figurines, and started to actually use them as a talking point to spark the conversation of whether or not he was the actual harbinger of light or not. In my opinion, Luke never got the chance to experience the darkness. He was too pure, too innocent, too blatantly GOOD for the average imperfect viewer to connect with. On the other hand, Anakin felt LOVE, he experienced intense loyalty to his family that became his driving force for all of his actions, and ultimately did redeem himself at the end when he removed his helmet right before he died. His reunion with his beloved son reminded me of the removal of a thorn from a lions paw. It brought peace to the pain that had driven him to what he had become. Ultimately it’s a human story. A story of redemption. A story I can relate to… That no matter how far I have strayed from the light, there is always hope…. That To my last breath, I will have an opportunity to redeem myself. Ultimately, the story of Darth Vader is one of HOPE.

  2. M Gorgan Ezadi
    March 13, 2017 at 16:48 Reply

    It’s like someone read my brain and wrote this. Amazing bravo!

  3. Soulnova (@yoski_soulnova)
    March 14, 2017 at 17:23 Reply

    Great analysis.

    I really wish they would touch this on Rebels. There’s a huge HUGE potential with Kanan and Ezra because… back then Caleb Dume was always asking questions and this actually made him stand out from the rest of the students. He didn’t do it to challenge what he was told, but to understand how they got to that answer… Billaba even states that’s why she chose him as her padawan. Caleb is shocked Deppa does not agree with the High Council on the role of the Jedi in the war and that’s why she ends up giving him the holocron so he can study the role of questions and peaceful dissent within the Order. But… since then… since Order 66 he completely abandoned that curiosity and inquisitiveness. He has the Jedi on a pedestal, when life was good for him. He misses them, yes, but he was yet too young to realize these problems. He has been using what he learned AS IS with Ezra.

    In any case, there is a lot of Kanan’s current life that the Council would chew him on, specially on his bonds with Hera and Ezra. They are his “Space Family”. I assume he hasn’t and will not force the old non-attachment policy on Ezra because that would be a little hypocrite on his part, (which I agree and would be actually best to focus on healthy bonds) but… if Ezra gets wind of the old Order code, I believe he would be disenchanted of becoming a Jedi… and yet trying not to let Kanan down by not being one.

  4. Melinda
    March 16, 2017 at 08:21 Reply

    You certainly don’t seem to have any love of the Jedi, painting them in such a negative way as you do.

    While I agree that there were problems the Jedi faced, especially as the Clone Wars got underway — due to the powerful, devious plans of the Sith — and there is something to be said for the way in which Anakin was treated that led to his fall to the Dark Side (although that was precipitated by his own selfishness!), the Jedi were not as uncaring and at fault as you depict.

    Also, you point out that Anakin was aghast and disappointed in Mace Windu’s reluctance to bring Palpatine/Sidious to trial. Anakin was not so altruistic in his desire to keep Sidious from death — he NEEDED Sidious (or so Anakin thought) to save Padme from what Anakin perceived as her imminent death; thus, Anakin wanted him alive. Days/Weeks earlier, Anakin gave into the (supposedly) incarcerated Palpatine’s directive to kill Count Dooku (aboard Grievous’ ship) — hardly a Jedi act, wouldn’t you say? Anakin knows full well what he has done — especially since he just uttered: “It is not the Jedi way.”

    I may not agree with your vilifying the Jedi as you do, but I certainly enjoyed reading what you had to say. Your blog was a well thought out essay. It may have been a bit skewed, but just as Obi-Wan Kenobi said to Luke on Dagobah (in ROTJ), many of our truths are colored by our individual points of view.

    Thank you for sharing!

    MTFBWY 🙂

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