Musings on a Hokey Religion

I’ve been reading a lot of Star Wars lately.  I have never gotten into the expanded universe before, so I am still very unfamiliar with lots of the world.  I’m most at home in the Old Republic era.  I have played the Knights of the Old Republic xbox game from Bioware through more than once.  I played KotOR 2, as well.  I try not to think about it.  And I’m a big fan of the Knights of the Old Republic graphic novel.

I read Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn earlier this week.  It’s also set in the Old Republic.  The main character is a Sith lord, and the book details his progress from a angry, confused man to the evil Darth Bane.  I enjoyed the book, even though I’m not normally big on stories told from a villain’s point of view.

The book got me thinking about the Sith and the dark side.  The dark side is presented as a constant threat to any force sensitive character in the world, and followers of the dark side are both powerful and dangerous.  But what exactly is it about the dark side that’s so tempting?  Is it just because it’s the fast and easy road to power?  Or is it because the Jedi outlook is so damn stifling?

Here’s the Sith Code for you to ponder.

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.

That doesn’t sound so bad, actually.  It’s about embracing your feelings and being free, right?  There’s no mention of the hate and anger that are so intrinsic to the dark side.

Let’s contrast it with the Jedi Code.

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.

The no death thing is nice, but I really get stuck on the “no emotion, no passion” bits.  I like emotions.  Jedi are still human (or whatever species it is that they’re members of) but the code makes it sound like they aspire to be droids.

In the Old Republic, the Jedi weren’t nearly as down on love and marriage as they are in later periods.  There are factions in the Jedi that actually support Jedi having families, mostly because force sensitive people have force sensitive babies, and that means a continuation of the order.

If I were a Jedi, I’d be in that faction.  I think that having some experience with dealing with emotions could be really helpful to Jedi facing their own inner darkness.  It’s no wonder that so many Jedi who are raised in the academy fall to the dark side.  They don’t have any practice dealing with their emotions.  They repress and repress until they finally snap and give in to fear which leads to anger which leads to hatred and all that.  As we know from the movies, the faction that favored Jedi families fell out of favor sometime in the thousands of years before the Clone Wars era.  I’m pretty curious about why, myself.  How did the Jedi get so stogy?  Were they without visible Sith enemies for too long?  Did they get comfortable, which led to complacent, which led to judgmental?

Poking about on the internet, I found another version of the Jedi Code.  They modified it into the one I’m more familiar with.

Emotion, yet peace.
Ignorance, yet knowledge.
Passion, yet serenity.
Chaos, yet harmony.
Death, yet the Force.

I like this version a lot better.  It still allows you to feel emotion, to have passion, but you also want to strive for peace and serenity.  It’s not the complete denial of feelings that the other form of the Jedi Code is, and I think that it’s a lot more embraceable.

About Jamie

Jamie Lackey lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and their cats. She has over 160 short fiction credits, and has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Escape Pod. She has a novella and two short story collections available from Air and Nothingness Press. In addition to writing, she spends her time reading, playing tabletop RPGs, baking, and hiking. You can find her online at

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