I will not forsake all I have honoured and worked for and betray the Republic.” – Padmé Amidala

War is intolerable. We have been deceived into thinking that we must be a part of it. I say the moment we committed to fighting, we already lost.” ― Duchess Satine Kryze

New Mandalore was a world of hope and prosperity. The planet had cast off the violent and extremist past of the Old Mandalorians and embraced change. The planet had become a centre of learning. Peace and reconciliation were at the centre of its neutral stance on interplanetary diplomacy. Tolerance, pacifism, neutrality, and democracy were its pillars. The Duchess Satine Kryze was a popular leader who sacrificed her life for her people and for peace. She was loved by her people but also by Obi-wan Kenobi, who came to regret choosing the Jedi Order over her.

The fall of Mandalore was a story of betrayal. For years, the Mandalorians had engaged in a civil war between the warriors of the extremist terrorist group, the Death Watch. The group wanted a return to the old warrior ways of the Mandalorians. Their leader of the group Pre Vizsla sought to overthrow the legitimate democratically elected government of New Mandalore through terrorism and targeted assassinations. They appealed to Count Dooku to drag Mandalore into the Clone Wars while at the same time planning to betray the separatists. Members of Satines’s government were corrupted through promises of power in the new regime as well as wealth.

The cost of maintaining neutrality came at a price for Mandalore during their civil war. The Republic would not support the Mandalorians. The Trade Federation manipulated and restricted trade with Mandalore favouring the Separatists while creating a black market and encouraging further corruption within the government lead by the Prime Minister Almec.

Our combined strength will be rewarded. Mandalore will be yours, and Kenobi, this Sith pretender Dooku and all our enemies… will fall.” ― Maul, to Pre Vizsla

The entry of Darth Maul into the fray sealed the fate of Mandalore. Darth Maul knew his path to revenge against Ob-wan Kenobi lay in holding Satine as a hostage. Mandalore was the key. The former Sith gone rogue had taken his brother Savage Oppress as an apprentice and allied himself with the Death Watch combining his small army of mercenaries and criminal thugs into the Shadow Collective. Renewed terror attacks and false flags were launched on the capital city Sundari. The defence forces crumbled in the face of the attack. The Death Watch leader convinced the terrorised population to support him and in fear they did. Wresting control of the government Pre Vizsla arrested Satine and turned on his new ally, Darth Maul placing him in prison.

Further betrayal allowed Maul to form an alliance with the disgraced former Prime Minister in prison and escape. Once free he confronted Pre Vizsla and defeated him in Lightsaber combat. The victory placed Maul in charge of loyal members of the Death Watch. Darth Maul now at the position of power appointed Almec as a puppet to impose his decrees.

Listen, Duchess. Do you hear the people? They cry out for change. Your weak-minded rule of Mandalore is at an end. The resurrection of our warrior past is about to begin!” ― Pre Vizsla to Satine Kryze

 News of the fall of Mandalore reached Coruscant but the senate and the Jedi Council refused to intervene despite the desperate pleas of the Duchess. The senate was prevented by politics and the influence of Palpatine. Those on Mandalore who could resist fled into exile and formed a resistance. Mandalore awoke to a new ruler and a new way of life.

Obi-wan Kenobi ignored the Jedi Council and travelled to Mandalore in secret to rescue Satine. Maul had laid his trap and capturing Kenobi forced the Jedi Master to watch Satine be tortured and then murdered. Anguish and despair overcame Kenobi as she died in his arms professing her love for him. Through the efforts of the resistance, Kenobi was able to escape.

The betrayal did not end there. Darth Sidious furious at the meddling of Darth Maul in the affairs of Mandalore personally visited the planet to punish Maul for daring to challenge the rule of two. Sidious easily killed Maul’s apprentice and imprisoned Maul before forcing Almec to swear his allegiance. Even when the Republic returned to depose Maul who had returned, Order 66 proved the effort futile as the planet quickly fell to the Empire as the Jedi were purged.

The following years bought further war and tragedy to Mandalore as the world constantly changed hands. The Empire could not control it and found a final solution in the “Great Purge” which led to the mass genocide of the Mandalorian people and their expulsion from the planet.

That planet is cursed. Anyone who goes there dies. Once the Empire knew they couldn’t control it, they made sure no one else could either.” – Din Djarin

The story of Mandalore sounds depressingly familiar to the recent history of Afghanistan. That country has suffered a continuous civil war which has all the conspiracy, intrigue, and tragedy of the Mandalorians. They call Afghanistan the “Graveyard of Empires” for a reason. The mountainous country is soaked in blood and tears. 

As I watch on the news the last plane depart Hamid Karzai airport in Kabul I feel sad for the people abandoned to endure an unknown fate in Afghanistan. I remember the promises that were made to those that laid their hopes in peace and a fledgling democracy, the young women who dreamed of having choices previously denied them, artists and intellectuals that were free to express themselves, students who could openly mix and enjoy the freedoms we so take for granted in the west. I fear for the life and safety of the US citizens, green card holders and Afghans who worked with the US and her allies.

The New Afghanistan is gone now. The old Afghanistan of the Taliban is back. Al Qaeda and other terror groups have returned in strength. The people of Afghanistan were betrayed and abandoned by their allies in the west as much as the New Mandalorians were betrayed and abandoned by the Republic. Left to the mercy of people who are as despotic as the Sith. Worst of all is the citizens of the US left stranded in a hostile land as remote now as if it were a distant planet. The civil war will continue as the opposing factions turn on each other slowly drawing outside powers back in to the abyss of the endless war.

An act of betrayal not only harms the betrayed but also the betrayer. The act of abandonment hurts both. The moral injury that remains far outlasts the act itself. The consequences of betrayal and abandonment can last for decades if not for life. I have a personal experience with both. One parent died when I was seven and the other, an alcoholic, soon abandoned his responsibilities. I felt as if I had been betrayed by both and abandoned by God. Later I also, betrayed those close to me and abandoned those that deserve better. Some I have made amends with, and others died before I had the chance to. Most of all I betrayed myself and abandoned my own principles. I now make amends through my actions.

Remember those betrayed, abandoned and stranded in Afghanistan. Remember the dead and the wounded. Never forget those that sacrificed their lives for a greater good and those that still carry the wounds and scars be they physical, mental or spiritual. They too were betrayed and abandoned by their leaders. Never forget the victims of 9/11, an event that changed everything for us that remember, twenty years ago. Many brave souls answered the call then to answer the atrocity. Obi-wan Kenobi answered the call and returned to Mandalore when no one else would. Who will answer the call of the Afghan people now?

Recovery has taught me to never betray those that rely on you and to ever abandon responsibilities that you have taken upon yourself to see to the end, no matter how painful that end might be. This is the way.

Jedi believe in Democracy

Jedi believe in democracy, but usually don’t trust politicians

Jedi firmly believe in democracy, but don’t trust politicians in general. Jedi are cautious of politicians, and of their many promises in order to get elected or re-elected.

(33 Jedi Traits)

The Jedi defended and upheld the democratic constitution of the Republic. For centuries they influenced and promoted democracy in the Galaxy. The Jedi Order itself was not democratic but a meritocracy where leaders rose through the ranks with experience and demonstrated ability. While the Jedi upheld the Republic they also influenced it and in some ways provided a catalyst for its collapse and the rise of supreme power under the Empire.

The Jedi became a diplomatic, political and military powerhouse.  The Jedi became too powerful, too influential and they allowed the vested interests of the Order to influence their role in being a spiritual and military ally of the Republic. The Order constantly tried to influence the decisions of the senate through advice and manipulation. A conflict of interest existed which was exploited by Darth Sidious. The flaw ultimately led to the fall of the Jedi Order and the Republic. Power corrupts and even democracy has its flaws.


What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists, and the Republic has become the very evil we have been fighting to destroy?” – Padmé


Lao Tzu said that non-interference in the affairs of the people was the best form of Governance. Taoism recommends that the best way to Govern is to leave the people alone and to trust them. Government exists to serve the people not the other way round.

We have all seen the effects of autocratic dictatorships. Eventually the people rise up and claim their freedom. Despots are overthrown and relegated to the dust bin of history. A people oppressed are a people united in common causes. Revolution is a natural human response to oppression.


By the People?

Democracy is supposed to be about “power by the people, for the people”. We hear it during every election campaign and inauguration address. Our leaders dedicate their victory to those that seek to guide the destiny of their country towards a better future. Promises are made to uphold the mandate of the people and many believe them. Without fail politicians usually disappoint. Policies are implemented and laws passed which raise the ire of the people. Promises are broken. Our chosen leaders start to betray their own support base and ignore their stated principles. Even exemplary Leaders can’t make everyone happy all the time. Democracy means that people can appoint or remove a Government when an election comes along. Politicians grasp on to power and do whatever it takes to lure the people’s confidence.

The cynics among us believe that politicians are rarely sincere in their acquisition and maintenance of power. Democracy is a noble cause but it empowers those that seek to profit from the discontent of the masses. Each politician believes that they have the best solution but are their motives sincere? Do they really represent the people or are they only there to serve vested interests? I for one don’t trust politicians at all. There are some great Leaders through history but in democracy a Leader is not necessarily the Government they do not rule alone.


Consensus seeking

Democracy is not just a form of Governance. Decisions made in the home and in the workplace often requires a degree of democracy. The will of the majority is imposed on the minority in a democratic system meaning that discontent will always exist. Consensus is a better solution allowing arbitration and discussion to occur. Each stakeholder is given an opportunity to participate and a final decision takes in to consideration the viewpoints of all.

Consensus can also lead to “group think” where individuals abrogate their opinion to appease others. This is becoming more and more common in society.  People won’t voice their opinion in fear of ridicule or ostracism if it might be viewed as politically incorrect. People prefer to take a stance which is contrary to their true beliefs or remain silent. True consensus is meant to empower all individuals through reasoned discussion and rational concession seeking. A win-win outcome is the goal of collaborative decision making through consensus.


Power by All

The Jedi were not a Democracy but they believed in the power of collective decision making. A Padawan was able to voice her opinion on a course of action in the field. A smart Jedi Knight would listen and consider the view point on its merits. Ahsoka Tano proved to be invaluable to Anakin despite her youth and inexperience. She was able to influence some of his decisions towards an optimal outcome. Anakin and Obi-wan regularly sought the opinions of their Clone subordinates during crucial battles acknowledging that even a mass produced genetically engineered soldier has valuable knowledge and experience to offer in challenging situations.

Some Leaders automatically dismiss the ideas of their subordinates while others put it to the vote. Consensus requires a collective approach where everyone is involved in the final decision. Regular units in the military generally have a “chain of command” approach to decision making, orders are passed down with little or no input from the affected.

Elite special force teams operate on a participatory approach to decisions. Every member of the Team is engaged in the planning and execution of a mission and has a direct investment in the decisions made. Voting may take place sometimes where a fast decision is required. The approach recognizes the value of each member while at the same time the commander has the right of veto when it becomes necessary to impose rank.


The Illusion of Control

Certain people like to control things all the time. Micromanagement is a style of Leadership which only serves to drive people to resist or even sabotage their leaders. Alcoholics like to control people, place and things and when they don’t get their way they become resentful and frustrated. In the past I used to try to micromanage those around me at work and at home. The more I tried to impose my will the more push back I would encounter and the more frustrated and angry I would become.

People do not like to be controlled but people do like to be led fairly and the best leaders are those that give others enough space and responsibility to grow in to their potential. Good leaders also listen to those around them and seek to serve the interests of all. I have found the best way to run a family or a team is through consensus and by stepping back. Everyone has input in to what happens, even the youngest child in a family has a voice. Where a final decision cannot be agreed upon a vote is taken. It may not be popular with everyone but it beats putting the foot down and dictating a decision that is unpopular.


The Fragile Pillar

We enjoy our democratic freedoms and take them for granted. Every few years we go to the polling stations and cast our vote to determine who will lead the State or Country for the next term of office. Sometimes we cast our vote with hope and optimism, other times we do so with a fair degree of cynicism and sometimes we don’t even bother. Voter apathy is a growing phenomenon in western democracy.

Despite their democratic freedoms people feel disenfranchised and unable to voice their opinion. They feel that the whole process is pointless. It is a far cry from what I saw in South Africa in 1994 when a group of Black voters told me in tears how they were so overjoyed to be able to cast their vote in the first free and fair elections held in that country. I saw real Democracy in action. It was not perfect but it was still beautiful.


Have they asked you to betray the Jedi code? The constitution? A friendship? Your own values? Think. Consider their motives. Keep your mind clear of assumptions. The fear of losing power is a weakness of both the Jedi and the Sith.” – Emperor Palpatine


The Death of Democracy

The Star Wars saga reminds us that Democracy is a very fragile phenomena and also flawed. With the fall of the Republic in “Revenge of the Sith” Emperor Palpatine was able to dissolve the Galactic Senate and claim full executive power under emergency laws. As Darth Sidious he was able to bring the Galaxy under the rule of the Sith with only the Rebel alliance opposing him and the Jedi destroyed.

A similar event occurred in Germany, Spain and Italy during the 1930’s through the incremental acquisition of power by politicians and military leaders riding on nationalist fervor and fear. It is happening today in Turkey as constitutional changes has granted emergency powers to a Dictator. Elected representatives and journalists have been imprisoned and military rule imposed on a wave of religious and nationalist fever. Democracy can easily be killed off through subterfuge. The resurgence of autocracy threatens to spread to other countries in the west.


Democracy not Politics

Historically society is more used to be dictated to by some autocratic figure head, humans feel safer under the illusion of some “powerful and benevolent” leader. The Greeks gave democracy its name and enjoyed it for centuries. In the end the Greeks rejected democracy and embraced autocratic rule. Is that our collective future? Is that what we choose for ourselves?

I agree with the Jedi. Democracy is our birth right. Democratic principles and rights are worth defending. We all have a right to have our voices heard and we all have a responsibility to use that voice. We should seek consensus in our own affairs in dealing with others and respect the right of all to have their voices heard.

I for one will however reserve my opinion about elected representatives and remain skeptical about the motives of politicians. I am mindful the politicians are not just those in power or seeking election, they can also be the person at work or in our circle of friends who plays political games to curry favor or influence others towards an agenda. It is best to be mindful that people might be sincere but politics can deceive and power often corrupts.