The Empire Strikes Back begins on a seemingly dead ice planet, Hoth. The bleakness of the planet is contrasted with the warm relationship which has evolved among the four main protagonists. Although Leia is furious that Han is planning to leave, their conflict only thinly veils the affection between them. And even though she continues to spurn his advances, there is something more than friendship there, although the screenwriter keeps us guessing until Leia admits her love for Han just before he is incased in carbonite.
The affection of Han and Leia for Luke is seen in their concern for him as he goes missing. Later, we even see Chewbacca give Luke a hug when they are about to part from each other. The heartfelt friendship of these characters will play a huge part in what happens later.
In the first movie, Luke Skywalker makes his “first step into a larger world,” and also uses the Force to help destroy the Death Star. But he still has much to learn. Luke still relies too much on technology, which does not detect the wampa before it attacks him. If he had been more tuned into the Force, certainly he would have known the monster was there. Somehow he needs to get more training in the ways of the Force.
Step in Ben Kenobi from the great beyond.
In a scene reminiscent of revelatory visions and dreams in the Old Testament, Obi-Wan tells Luke he must go to the Dagobah system to be trained by Yoda. Luke still needs to recover, and will help slow the advance of the Empire troops so rebel transports can get away. But after the battle, Luke leaves his friends, not telling them where he is going, and surprising his faithful droid, R2D2.
Sometimes friends must be abandoned for a while – for the greater good.
In contrast to Hoth, the Dagobah planet is teaming with life. But, except for his electronic companion, Luke is very much alone. Even after meeting Yoda, he is still virtually alone, as he must face “the trials” completely by himself.
When Luke arrives at the planet, Yoda doesn’t reveal himself at first. He wants to test Luke’s patience, and Luke fails miserably. Luke also still has many misconceptions to overcome, and needs to learn to live in the now. Yoda tells Obi-Wan,
“All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things.”
Turning to Luke, he adds, “You are reckless.”
Obi-Wan reminds Yoda how reckless he was. (We will see some of that in the prequels.) He convinces Yoda to train Luke, even though both Jedi Masters have misgivings about him, fearful he will become “like his father.” Here George Lucas is giving us a hint, much as a good mystery novel provides hints as the story progresses. But the shocker is we have no reason to believe Luke is being lied to; the information is being withheld that Darth Vader is actually his father. But this information, provided by Darth Vader himself, will be vital to the outcome of the next film, Return of the Jedi. Even the wisest of the Jedis cannot see all.
On the Star Wars Wiki website, the debacle surrounding the Battle of Galidraan is described. Count Dooku had been ordered by the Council to lead the battle. In an article I wrote for Examiner.com, just after the death of Christopher Lee, I commented how Lee’s character, “Count Dooku became Darth Tyranus, in part because of some lees-than-blameless actions ordered by the Jedi Council.” In the Examiner article, I compared Dooku’s betrayal to Anakin Skywalkers’:
“This is reminiscent of Anakin Skywalker being drawn to the Dark Side after being recruited to spy on the Emperor. We learn in the prequel films the Jedi Order was run by people with feet of clay. The power of the Force causes temptations for even the Light-Siders. Being one of the “good guys” doesn’t exempt people from questionable acts and decisions.”
That is not to say that the “good guys” were not trying to do their best to do what is right. But the Jedi Council, with its (over)emphasis on not being controlled by emotion, sometimes missed the mark when it comes to compassion. Almost like the Levite and the Priest in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, they limited what they were willing to be involved in.
Yoda is right to be cautious when he warns Luke about negative emotions: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Luke’s father was led to the dark side because his deep love and compassion for his wife led to fear of the future. Yoda and Obi-Wan are right to be concerned Luke will follow the same path. But…
Sometimes the greater good must be risked when your friends are in need.
Luke knows that he has much to learn. And he will continue to learn even as he faces Vader in order to help his friends. As Vader acknowledges, “You have controlled your fear.” Luke doesn’t give in to his anger. He doesn’t use his hatred to try to destroy Vader. Even after he learns he was lied to about his father, he refuses to give in.
We live in an age where the old guardians of Christianity are being criticized perhaps more than ever before. And much of the criticism is justified. Christian leaders have made mistakes, many of them unforgivable. But if we look honestly at the history, most of the time the leaders of the faith were doing the best they could with the knowledge and wisdom available at the time. They were honestly seeking to follow God the best they knew how.
What is desperately needed today is the wisdom to know when we need to follow the guidance of those who have gone before, and when that guidance needs to be changed out of compassion for others. Tradition has great value, and we can learn much from the great teachers and theologians of the past. But sometimes there is wisdom in the younger generation that those holding on to traditionalism have missed. Just remember that the next generation will sit in judgment on this one, too. And beware lest our judgment of the past leads us to the dark side of the present.