“In order to ensure our security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society, which I assure you will last for ten thousand years” – Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
“So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause.” – Padmé Amidala
The fall of the Republic did not happen overnight. The decline started years before Chancellor Palpatine declared emergency powers and dissolved the senate. Changes were incremental and subtle. The Clone Wars started as the result of a number of planetary systems demanding greater independence from the Republic. The war then justified new mandates and laws to be imposed by both the Republic and the Confederation.
The slow creep of authoritarianism began to spread like a cancer corrupting people and institutions as it advanced. Changes were accepted universally. The Jedi Order was not immune to the rot. Eventually it was the steady slide into authoritarianism that led to the collapse of the Republic, the demise of the Jedi Order and the rise of Darth Vader.
The Emperor believed in absolutes. Mandates and lies were the tools he used to enforce his will. Let that be a warning.
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin
There is only one requirement for entry into a 12 step program of recovery. We are told that all are welcome and require only a desire to stop drinking. The 12 Steps are a recommended guide that promises contented and sustained sobriety for those that work the program honestly and with effort. No dogma exists, there are no rules, there are only steps and traditions that each person is expected, not mandated, to follow. There are no absolutes. The individual chooses either way and takes ownership of that choice and accepts the outcomes it brings them.
There is a line in 12 step literature which reads “we have true democracy and true brotherhood”. The founders of the 12 steps believed in the freedom and rights of the individual while placing great value on the strength of the group to support the individual in his or her recovery. The attraction of the 12 Steps was its appeal to the individual. An alcoholic saw that hope resided for him if he was honest enough to admit his disease and flaws. The alcoholic gained purpose by being willing to surrender their lives to the idea of a Higher Power as they understood it. No one could help the alcoholic but himself. While others could share in their struggles and support them they were not responsible for the recovery of anyone but their own.
“That it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer, is a Maxim that has been long and generally approved.” – Benjamin Franklin
Unlike many recovery programs that require a strict adherence to rules and requirement though reward and punishment incentives, the 12 Steps brings about recovery only through commitment and hard work. There is no punishment for not following the program. There is no segregation from the group, no expulsion or removal of rights. The desire to stay sober and avoid the return to the hell of active alcoholism is incentive enough. No one is forcing you to make that choice. It is your choice alone.
Recovery gives us freedom and the sovereignty to decide what goes into our bodies. We decide how to respond to the world using reasoned and rational thought. When we were in abuse, we had no choice. If we pick up again, we lose that choice and once again become victims to the absolutism and nihilism of alcoholism. Without choice we are at the mercy of the Dark Side and subject to its will.
“Only a Sith deals in absolutes. I will do what I must.” – Obi-wan Kenobi
The Jedi Path is a choice not a mandate. The Jedi did not believe in absolutes. They believed in free choice and individual rights. Those that walk the Jedi Path do so at their own volition. They can step off the path at any time. There is no dogma or rules which a Jedi must follow. A Jedi is not mandated to do anything and is free to act in accordance with the Jedi Code. The Jedi has ownership of their physical self, spiritual beliefs, principles and whatever value system they embrace.
Being Jedi is accepting the diversity and uniqueness of each individual and allowing them the choice to live as they will. It means respecting the decisions of others. While you may not agree with the choices of others, it is their right. You do not have moral superiority over others through the choices you make. No one has the right to enforce their will on others. Mandates and forced compliance are the tools by which tyrants gradually increase their power and enforce it upon others. Being Jedi is protecting individual rights as well as the community. We do not deal in absolutes.
“I ‘am the Senate” – Chancellor Palpatine
The fictional Jedi were Free Thinkers. The Jedi opposed authoritarianism and advocated for democracy and individual rights. They avoided dogma and did not like mandates that were pushed through for the “collective good” at the expense of individual liberty. They followed a code and accepted vows but they did so freely. A Jedi was free to leave the order anytime. Jedi used reason and objective rational thought in making their own decisions. It was for this reason that the Jedi and Sith were diametrically and ideologically opposed.
Do you rely on authority to make decisions for you? Do undemocratic mandates truly keep you safe and secure? Can you think freely and stand as an individual with reasoned choice?
Do you deal in absolutes?