Anyone who knows me knows that i’m a big Star Wars geek. From building Lego star ships, playing every Star Wars video game I can get my hands on, asking girls out to dances dressed as Darth Vader… you get the idea. One of my favorite things to discuss when it comes to Star Wars is the theology behind the Jedi and the Sith. When I was younger my brother and I played a game (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – I still highly recommend it) that allowed you to make choices that leaned towards one side or the other. I always played as a Sith and he was always a Jedi. We’d debate about which side was better and I’d always win (don’t fight me on this Sam!). Since then I’ve had numerous discussions about it, from giving a college speech to discussing it on first dates (did I mention I’m still single?…) Now it’s time convince the world!
To set the stage, we need to do a few things. First, we need to define what a Jedi is and what a Sith is. Second, we need to define the setting of the Star Wars universe. Once these are defined, we’ll start making comparisons using two basic categories: Power and Morality.
Jedi call themselves “peace keepers” and work to keep the galaxy in a state of “peace.” The Jedi do this internally by having very strict policies. Jedi train children to be Jedi at an early age before they develop emotionally. Jedi do not have families. Jedi report to the Jedi Council. Jedi seek growth but limit it to certain teachings.
Sith are driven by passion and feed off of their emotions. Most Sith begin as Jedi before joining the Dark Side. Sith are not structured but rather have the freedom to grow as they see fit. Sith are typically independent but may have one apprentice. Sith will learn and do nearly anything to grow stronger.
The Star Wars universe is full of worlds and species. Each world typically governs itself and most are a part of one giant political party known as The Republic. The Republic is challenged from time to time (Mandalorian War, becoming an Empire, etc.), but that main body is almost always there. The most significant thing to take into account regarding the Star Wars universe is that the closest thing to God is “The Force.”
Alright, lets get to the good stuff!
The easiest way to determine which faction is stronger is to break apart the battles that we watched in the movies. We’ve all seen them and there is very little to dispute.
- Qui Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Maul: The fight takes place on Naboo and goes all over the place while Darth Maul single handed keeps both Jedi at bay. I should mention that he does so with his epic double bladed lightsaber, a weapon that takes extra skill to use (imagine how careful you would need to be when holding a sword made of pure energy and then imagine that sword has two sides…). Eventually the two jedi are briefly separated. Qui Gon goes 1 on 1 with Darth Maul and loses. This angers Obi Wan, giving him added focus and makes the fight more even. Even so, Darth Maul temporarily beats him by pushing him off an edge. This is where I struggle to understand the battle. Darth Maul, after fighting what must have been the hardest fight of his life, casually watches his enemy jump over him, force grab a light saber, and kill him. WHAT?!?! I can’t help but believe the director realized at the end that he had to keep Obi Wan Kenobi around for a couple more movies so he came up with a nonsensical ending. In any case, I give the Sith the edge as Obi Wan only makes it close when be lets his emotions (Sith trait) influence his fighting.
- Obi Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Master Yoda vs. Darth Tyranus: In this fight, Tyranus takes each Jedi one on one. He dominates Obi Wan, cuts off Anakin’s hand, and then holds his own against Yoda. Tyranus realizes he can’t hold off Yoda forever so he causes a diversion in order to escape. I give the Sith an edge in this fight, seeing that Tyranus escapes in one piece after facing three Jedi. He likely would have lost to Yoda eventually but that is to be expected since Yoda is regarded as the most powerful Jedi.
- Master Yoda vs. Darth Sidious: I choose this battle because it is the battle between the two strongest force wielders on either faction. Yoda is the most powerful Jedi and Sidious is the most powerful Sith. They fight without interruption for a long time. In the end, Yoda flees the battle and says, “Into exile, I must go. Failed, I have.” He openly admits to losing to Sidious.
- Obi Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Vader: This is the closest thing we have to a fight. Obviously Darth Vader wins when he is given a free shot and cuts Obi Wan in half.
- Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader: An experienced Vader takes on an inexperienced Luke. Vader eventually allows his emotions to give him an edge and wins after cutting of Luke’s hand.
- Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader: Luke and Vader have a rematch here in front of Darth Sidious. The battle is on and off with Vader staying on top of the fight. Vader starts taunting Luke about his sister which makes Luke angry (emotions). His new found anger gives him an edge as he cuts off Vader’s hand. Luke wins the fight only after unleashing his emotions.
Notice any patterns? Like how it typically takes multiple Jedi to fight a single Sith? Or how a Jedi can only win when they tap into their emotions (a Sith trait)? The Sith are clearly more powerful than the Jedi.
The morality discussion is a little more difficult to piece together. First off, it is important to remember that “The Force” is essentially the “God” of the Star Wars Universe. Both the Jedi and the Sith are regarded as religions. The Jedi are called the “Light Side” because they are usually out in the open and the Sith are the “Dark Side” since they tend to stay in the shadows. I believe that both factions are somewhat broken so I will explain what I do and do not like about each faction.
Jedi: It is hard to argue that the Jedi are bad people. Jedi dedicate their lives to keep order. But there are a few things that I really don’t like. First, they do not have families. The only way they can build their organization is by training small children who do not know any better. This is a HUGE flaw. They never experience what it is like to feel the love that comes from loving a spouse or children. How would you like to put the peace of your nation in the hands of someone who doesn’t feel love? They also do not seek external knowledge. The universe is as they say it is. This really limits the ability they have to help others. Remember how a Sith learned how to stop someone from dieing? Jedi will never learn this power. The Jedi have found a way to keep their own spirits around, but a Sith learned how to keep himself and others alive. Also, a Sith with an everlasting body is much more capable than a Jedi with an everlasting spirit.
Sith: The Sith are viewed as evil because the Sith we see in the movies are, well, pretty evil. However, it is important to remember that following the Sith code does NOT make you evil. A Sith does not have to be like this. The Sith code says that they use their passion to give them strength. No where in the Sith code does it say “Anger” or “Hate”. The Sith we see in the movies feed off of Anger, but theoretically a Sith could use other passions to grow stronger. Either way, the “God” of the Star Wars Universe is “The Force”, so “sin” doesn’t exist. Right and wrong are not clearly defined. You won’t have many friends if you use anger to grow stronger but you also won’t got to “Hell”.
As a Sith, I could have a family. I could use passions other than hate (like love) to grow stronger. My search for knowledge would not be limited so I could learn how to manipulate the Force however I need, including the ability to save lives. As a Jedi, I would be stuck feeling no emotion and following a council of Jedi who also feel no emotion.
I’ll take the Sith route.