I’ve had Star Wars on my brain for a while, so I thought I would write a Star Wars-themed blog post today, the topic being the Jedi vs Sith codes as seen through the lens of someone struggling with mental illness (and, obviously, a nerd – or geek, whichever you prefer). First, I’ll post the two codes.
There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
There is no death, there is the Force.
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.
Those are the two codes, and reading them, you can see the differences in the philosophies at play. The Jedi favor serenity, harmony, and peaceful contemplation – very Zen, insofar as my limited knowledge of Zen goes – while the Sith favor a more passionate, energetic approach – the passion of emotions gives them the strength to control their lives and futures. I don’t pretend to have done an in-depth study of the meaning behind the two codes, though, I’m just looking at them through the lens of my personal experience. And while I have to admit that there is certainly a place for the Jedi principles, most of what I have learned is that in real life, the Sith Code is far more relevant.
One of the most important things that I’ve learned in my treatment is that emotions are something that you can’t repress – not for long, anyway. They more you push them down, the more they will fight to come up, and eventually they will come out whether you want them to or not. So it’s much smarter to deal with them as they come up and try to work through them while they’re still fresh than it is to try to ignore them. The Jedi that we see in the Star Wars movies are always trying to remain calm, and avoid emotions – thus Anakin getting in trouble for his relationship with Padme, because emotional attachment make emotions too strong and close to the surface. The meaning of the code may not be emotional suppression, but that’s how it seems to be used in the movies – and we see how well that goes.
The Sith Code was actually created by Bioware, for their computer game Knights of the Old Republic. It emphasizes emotion over suppression, and using that emotion, that passion, to your own gain. Through passion, eventually you gain freedom – to do what, it isn’t clear, but it seems like it could be the freedom to essentially have control over your life. And as someone with a mental illness, I find that very appealing. Now, I have no plans to don dark robes, cackle maniacally, and try to take over, create, or otherwise rule a galactic empire. But I do want to be able to control my life on my terms, And so I prefer using my emotions over suppressing them any day of the week.
Like I said before, though, the Jedi Code has its merits. It does value knowledge over ignorance – something I am also a big fan of, because I’ve seen a lot of passionate things done without enough information, and that can go really badly wrong, really fast. But saying that there is no emotion, only peace, is doing the emotional lives of humanity a disservice. Ultimately, though, I think both codes could be read both positively or negatively – you could just as easily have a Jedi dispassionately ordering a campaign of galactic genocide because he felt that only certain people were evolved enough to handle the Force as you could have a Sith putting his or her passion to work to help others – real altruism, from what I’ve seen, requires that one have a real passion for what they do, something that the Jedi Code fails to take into account. Either could be used for light or dark purposes – it’s only due to movies needing consistent bad guys that the Sith have become the stereotypical bad guys in the Star Wars universe.
As a bonus, here’s a video tour of my Star Wars: The Old Republic characters’s galactic stronghold, decorated all fancy-like because company is a-comin’.
I apologize for the poor sound. My microphone apparently doesn’t know how to do its job.