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.



You don’t have to carry a sword to be powerful, a leaders strength is inspiring greatness in others” – Ahsoka Tano

A Rare Quality

To be Jedi is to be a Leader. Jedi choose to lead even if they are reluctant at first to do so they know it is their duty and responsibility as Jedi. The Jedi lead by example not by Force.

The Fictional Jedi were given leadership roles in the Republic. Positions of authority were granted as part of the Jedi title. A young Padawan student might have been given command of a battalion of Clone Troopers and was expected to lead them in to battle. The reality of war service demanded that they be willing to put aside hesitation, control their fear, reject their doubt and do their duty. They had to put the mission and the welfare of their troops above themselves. Quite a demand!

On our world I have met barely 21 year old men and women in the Israeli Defense Force with the rank of Captain or Major. Their dedication to duty and willingness to sacrifice themselves and lead others from the front is what makes their Defense Force and the country so united, resilient and strong. The young Young Kurdish female fighters of the YPG also lead men into battle against the Islamic State fanatics today. Their bravery, optimism, love of life and courage has gained the admiration of the world and continues to as they march to final victory.

“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” – Alexander the Great

False Leadership

Being Alcoholic and arrogant I had a false sense of superiority and an inflated ego that demanded respect without earning it. I expected simple length of service and appointed rank sufficient to define me as a leader. My subordinates at work may have obeyed my orders but it was out of fear and with resentment.

In my role as a Leader I was demanding standards in work and conduct from my charges that I was not applying to myself. Where there was failure or mistakes the blame would cascade down. Any credit for hard work and success went to me. My double standards negated my mandate to lead however the system kept me in charge and my team did what they could to resist and undermine me. To defy poor and incompetent leadership is a natural thing to do despite what we are told by society.

In my Regiment in the Army obedience to command was paramount but insubordination was common and also a natural response to incompetence. A corporal seemed to have the power of life and death over a private. Sergeants were a class above and Officers were like Gods. You did not even look at Officers unless you wanted a NCO to march over and literally rip your face off.

Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership” – Colin Powell

Fear and Coercion

The entire ethos in my regiment was one of fear and intimidation. Through coercion and harsh discipline we were shaped in to an effective fighting force but there was no love or respect for command. With few exceptions they did not inspire us. If they told us to fight we did because we loved the fight anyway not because we respected them. We did what we did for each other and true Leaders stood among us in the ranks.

Operations were interesting. They say what “goes in the field stays in the field”. A number of unpopular NCO’s met “accidents” on patrol and were badly injured and repatriated. If a squad or platoon leader was a cluster in the field he was a liability and if not removed by echelon then he was removed one way or another by the Grunts.

Leaders that only care for themselves are not leaders. They may hold rank through some community, civic or military authority and enforce it through fear and intimidation but they are not Leaders.

People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives” – Theodore Roosevelt

Lead by Example

Being sober and recovered gives us the opportunity to demonstrate that we are leaders in the truest sense. At home, work and in the community we can lead by virtue of example. We can demonstrate our principles consistently and in all of our affairs.

Being firm but fair in our approach we can adopt an attitude of transparency and openness. We look to where we can serve others before ourselves. People become drawn to our humility and selflessness. They recognize these virtues as leadership qualities and they gravitate to us. The respect is mutual and trust is established.

Leaders do this not for rewards or credit but because it is the right thing to do. It is their duty.

“If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you” – Anonymous
In the program there are no leaders, just persons appointed in to certain support functions needed to ensure the fellowship works. It is a egalitarian system that fosters trust and respect. All the same every person who shows up to help his fellow is a Leader in their own right.
Being given the opportunity to Lead is a privilege not an entitlement as I once imagined. Whether you hold that responsibility at home, at work or in the community remember we lead in order to serve others, not ourselves. By being sober and living in accordance with principles you lead by example. In doing so you help others strive to be better.

Be the Leader you are meant to be.

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu