Random Star Wars Thoughts: Balance of the Force

The Star Wars universe is vast. The official continuity includes 10 films (and counting), 4 television series that have either aired or are in development, and a host of books and comic books. There are all kinds of topics of discussion, whether it be the nature of the Force, the political machinations of the various factions, the motivations of characters, and all the different monsters, aliens, weapons, and ships in that galaxy far, far away. From time to time I'd like to take a look at just one aspect of the Star Wars universe, and offer my take. Welcome to Random Star Wars Thoughts.

The Prophecy of the Chosen One
The Phantom Menace introduced us to a new way of looking at the Force. The Jedi Council referred to a prophecy of a Chosen One who would bring balance to the Force. Up until that point, we knew that there was a Dark Side and a Light Side of the Force, but we had never heard anything about a balance. There are all kinds of questions about this prophecy. What is the actual text of the prophecy? Who prophesied it? Does it refer to destroying the Sith? Is Anakin really the Chosen One? I'm not going to go into any of those questions in this article. But I would like to examine what it means to bring balance to the Force.

Did the Jedi Purge bring balance?
One theory that has made its way around the internet since 2005 is that the imbalance in the Force came from the Jedi being too powerful and too numerous. According to this theory, Anakin fulfilled the prophecy by killing all the Jedi except Obi-Wan and Anakin. At the end of Revenge of the Sith, there are only two Jedi remaining, and two Sith. Balance, right?

I disagree. Technically, the individual points of the theory are correct. But I find that the least compelling interpretation of the prophecy. "Behold, there shall come a boy who was conceived by midichlorians. And lo, he shall kill the right number of people so that there are the same number of Jedi and Sith." What kind of prophecy is that? It's kind of a silly thing to have as the motivation for most of the action in the prequel trilogy.

Does balance mean equal parts good and evil?
One assumption a lot of people have is that "balance of the Force" means a balance between good and evil. Whether that means an equal number of Jedi and Sith, or an equal amount of power on each side, I don't think that's what the prophecy is saying.

Think of an individual with two conflicting urges - one to do evil, and the other to do good. Imagine those urges are so evenly matched that he finds himself unable to take action. His will is divided. I don't think anyone would use the word "balance" when describing this individual. (Unless they were to say, "On balance, I think he has some serious issues.")

Just look at Kylo Ren when he killed Han Solo and dueled Rey in The Force Awakens. Snoke later referred to Kylo as "unbalanced." But at the time, Kylo was struggling between his desire to stay on the Dark Side of the Force, while being called to the Light. Ultimately, he went with the Dark Side. But he wasn't "unbalanced" because the Dark Side was stronger in him than the Light. When Snoke said he was "unbalanced," he was referring to the fact that Kylo was beaten by "a girl who had never held a lightsaber." The reason he was unbalanced was because of the conflicting urges in him, not because the Dark Side was stronger.

What happens if we extrapolate this "equal parts" definition of balance to an entire community? For example, imagine a city where half of the citizens obey the law, and the other half are criminals. Would anyone say that city had found "balance?" Probably not. (Hopefully not!)

So what does "balance of the Force" mean?
To me, it seems that the Dark Side of the Force causes imbalance. When the Dark Side rises to challenge the Light Side, the galaxy is thrown into chaos. When Palpatine is manipulating the Senate - even though it seems like the Light Side is in control - the Force is out of balance. Yoda says in Attack of the Clones that their ability to communicate with the Force has been compromised.

Here's my proposition: the Balance of the Force comes from Force-users listening to the will of the Force. The Sith and other users of the Dark Side do not do this, as a rule. They seek power, and they use the Force - and other people - to gain that power.

Did Anakin bring balance to the Force? When he was redeemed by his son Luke, Anakin saved his son by killing Palpatine. Thus, he put an end to the Sith and their hold on the galaxy. And the return of the Jedi was not the return of the misguided Jedi Council of the Clone Wars era, but one that followed the wisdom of Qui Gon Jinn, who had advocated listening to the will of the Force. (Qui Gon trained Yoda from beyond the grave after the rise of the Empire, and Yoda trained Luke.)

What about you? Do you agree or disagree? I am sure there are instances in the films or television series that seem to go against my theory. I'd love to discuss that. Check out my contact information below for ways you can join the conversation.

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