Bendu, Neutrality & the Broader Force

star-wars-rebels-season-3-kanan-benduGoing back to an idea I touched on a few weeks ago, when I was kid watching the original trilogy, and even when I was older and watched the prequels, I was under the impression that the Force was a two-sided coin:  it was either used for light, or dark; good, or evil; Jedi, or Sith. There wasn’t really any middle-ground. But now, with the Sith destroyed, the dark side of the Force should be gone too, leaving the light as the only remaining side of the Force coin, right? Well, I think the Bendu, Supreme Leader Snoke, and the Knights of Ren would all disagree…so let’s put the Force stew back on the burner, add elements of neutrality along with different forms of good and evil, and then see how it tastes, huh? (Yay, cooking reference!

Neutrality
benduAs I alluded to in the intro, the introduction of the Bendu adds an interesting element of neutrality to the Force. Although we have seen other Force users in Star Wars canon aside from Jedi and the Sith, they’ve always had a lean, mostly toward the dark side (like the Nightsisters and Maul, for example) – even the Force Priestesses seemed to embody two sides of the Force bound together, but the Bendu says he’s “the one in the middle,” neither light nor dark. So what does that mean? He seems to be helping the would-be Jedi heroes in Rebels, so does that mean he’s good, just not Jedi or Sith? Or would he give the same assistance to Maul should they meet? Is it even possible to truly be neutral? I don’t actually think so…I think the idea is the Bendu doesn’t follow any predetermined path, i.e. Jedi or Sith, and is free to harness an unaffiliated, third version of the Force, the neutral side, the even side…the balanced side?  But how might a neutral side of Force even work? Well, I have an idea…

The Black Knight
black-knightsThere’s an old legend of a Black Knight that, because he’d done as many good deeds as evil deeds during his life, was given the option to live as long as he wanted, doing whatever he wanted. But, since “he was no longer part of the system (i.e. “the system” of being either good or evil), his actions no longer mattered for the world. Should he do good deeds, others would do bad deeds and the universal balance would remain unchanged. Should he do bad deeds, others would do good deeds and, again, the balance of the universe would remain the same.” What if those that don’t fall into part of “the system” of the Force, beings such as the Bendu, become cosmically balanced regardless of what they do; should they aide someone, like Kanan, on the “light” path, another neutral being will aide someone on the dark path, keeping at least this third side of the Force eternally balanced. But what if there isn’t a magically balanced third side of the Force? What if there isn’t even two sides?

The Sliding Scale
scales_of_justiceWhat if there is just the Force. What if it doesn’t have a light side and a dark side, just people who bend it toward light or dark? The Jedi represent one side of the Force scale, those who use the Force for “good” or “light,” the Sith represent the other side as the ultimate users of the dark arts, and everyone else falls somewhere in between. It’s not constantly moving toward a state of balance or homeostasis because it has no state to change, it just is, and talking about the dark side or the light side just refers to how one utilizes it. And what if a prophecy of one who would bring balance to the Force just meant someone that would personally balance the scale, someone who would do as many good deeds as they would evil…someone like Anakin, who, before he became Vader and then after he was redeemed, performed numerous good deeds while also performing numerous evil deeds as Darth Vader – he was both sides of the Black Knight:  he did good, then balanced the scale by doing evil as well. Personally, I blame Western culture for our ingrained idea that everything has to be black or white, light or dark, good or evil, heaven or hell, while, in reality, 99.9% of all things fall somewhere closer to the middle than to either one side or the other…

So what do you think? What is the Force? Is it a well-spring of power with two, three, or many sides, or is it one neutral entity that depends on the user for its moral lean? And what of neutrality? Do you think it’s possible, or is it a pipe-dream like altruism or world peace? (Debbie Downer, right? Geez…) Does the Bendu mean he’s neutral when he says he’s between the Sith and Jedi, or does he just mean he doesn’t fit in with either group? If the Force is a scale, where would you fall? Would you be more toward the dark or the light? What if you could be a black knight, would you do good deeds, or evil deeds, and why? (I think I’d do evil deeds to people I deemed evil in the hopes that something good would happen to someone deserving to balance it out.) Anyway, I need to get some sleep, so that’s all I have for you this week…I hope you enjoyed my pontificating, and I hope to get some comments so we can keep the topic rolling, but, as usual, I won’t hold my breath…oh, and, you know, may the Force be with you…

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