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Lor San Tekka and the Balance of the Force

Lor San Tekka and the Balance of the Force

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I’ve seen a lot written and I’ve heard a lot said about Lor San Tekka lately. The leader of the Church of the Force seems to have captured the imaginations of Star Wars fans. I recently watched The Force Awakens again (thank goodness for Blu-ray) and one of his lines caught my attention. “Without the Jedi, there can be no balance to the Force.” Whoa. Wait a second. Didn’t Anakin or Luke Skywalker bring balance to the Force? With that line, Lor San Tekka casts doubt that any balance that was brought to the Force by Anakin and Luke Skywalker is a lasting balance. The question is, what does he mean by this? Ever since the prophecy whereby the Chosen One would bring balance to the Force was mentioned in The Phantom Menace, a great deal of fan speculation has followed. What does Lor San Tekka’s declaration mean to the fabled “balance of the Force?”

First, in order to discuss this at all, one must assume that Lor San Tekka is actually speaking from a position of authority. Not everything every character says in Star Wars should be taken as gospel. For instance, Grand Moff Tarkin once declared that the Jedi were extinct, and that Darth Vader was all that was left of their religion. That may have been hyperbole, or he could have been mistaken. Regardless, he was not correct. It is entirely possible that Lor San Tekka is exaggerating how dire things in the galaxy have become. However, he precedes his line about balance by stating, “I’ve travelled too far, and seen too much to ignore the despair in the galaxy.” As the leader of the Church of the Force, let’s assume he speaks with authority for the moment.

In the past, some fans have speculated that “balance” meant an equal number of Jedi and Sith in the galaxy. Under this theory, Anakin was not the chosen one. Darth Vader was. Balance was achieved when Darth Sidious issued Order 66 and Darth Vader, with the assistance of the clones, eliminated nearly all the Jedi in the galaxy save two: Obi-Wan and Yoda. This theory is unappealing for a couple of reasons. Under this interpretation, no force user was required to achieve balance. The clones, who outnumbered the Jedi, could have done it by themselves. Second, it was the Emperor’s order as much as anything that achieved this version of balance.

Assuming that Lor San Tekka is correct, and that the Jedi, if not the Sith, are needed for balance, then balance would have been eliminated at the conclusion of Return of the Jedi. Darth Vader destroyed Darth Sidious, and himself in the process. The Sith were entirely gone, at least as far as we, the fans, know. All that was left was a single Jedi. If Luke had not escaped from the Death Star, would the Force have been returned to balance or would the Force have been permanently left in darkness?

As shown in The Force Awakens, there are more than just Jedi and Sith in the galaxy. Maz Kanata knows the Force. Lor San Tekka knows of the existence of the Force and lives by its teachings with his Church of the Force. Supreme Leader Snoke is familiar with the dark side. So is his apprentice, Kylo Ren. However, none of them are sufficient to create the balance of which the prophecy and Lor San Tekka speaks.

I had always thought, and I’m not alone, that the presence of the Sith and their use of the dark side of the Force was what brought the Force out of balance. It was never about having an equal number of Jedi and Sith. In that regard, and according to the prophecy, the Jedi were not essential to keeping the Force in balance. Using the dark side, or tipping the Force to the dark side, created an imbalance that could be resolved by the “chosen one.” Importantly, the chosen one need not even be a Jedi. This part of the reason that some have interpreted the decimation of the Jedi at the hands of the Sith as the fulfillment of the prophecy.

I like to think of the Force as being analogous to a body. When your body is “in balance,” you are healthy. Outside agents, such as viruses, make the body unhealthy and out of balance. If that analogy is accurate, then how would one reconcile Lor San Tekka’s statements about the requirement of the Jedi to keep the balance? One explanation might be that the Jedi are the doctors of the Force. They help keep the Force in balance by attempting to interpret the will of the Force. They meditate. A doctor attempts to keep his patient healthy by examining the body, looking for illness, and prescribing treatment, therapy, and medications to restore health and return the body to “balance.” Similarly, the Jedi would root out those that are misusing the Force and seek to eliminate this use.

This of course raises more questions. If the Jedi are meant to be caretakers of the Force, then why have they adopted the role of the galaxy’s peacekeepers? At the time of The Phantom Menace, the Sith were believed to have been extinct for at least a millennium. Instead of fighting and destroying the Sith, they became the galaxy’s self-proclaimed peacekeepers. Eventually, they began reporting to the Senate and their role was more muddled than ever. Qui-gon once advised Queen Amidala that he could only protect her, but not fight a war for her when she returned to Naboo to rescue it from the Trade Federation. In ten years’ time, they were in fact leading soldiers in a war against the Separatists. At the time of the Clone Wars, they were focused on defeating the Separatists. In essence, the Jedi may have been committing malpractice with respect to their patient. They lost sight of their goal. As Yoda would put it, the dark side clouded everything.

Also, why is the Force out of balance at the time of The Force Awakens, assuming it is out of balance? Does this mean that Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren have thrown it out of balance through their practice of the dark side? But, hasn’t Snoke been lurking around in the galaxy for some time? These are all mysteries that remain for Episodes VIII and IX of the trilogy.

The more I think about Lor San Tekka’s statement of the importance of the Jedi to the balance of the Force, the more I think the Force is an evolving thing. It is created by life and binds the galaxy together after all. Perhaps the Jedi aren’t critical to the balance of the Force, but thirty years after the Battle of Endor, Lor San Tekka has seen things get so bad that the only solution he can see is another return of the Jedi. I’m becoming a fan of Lor San Tekka too. I’d love to learn what he meant about the importance of the Jedi to the balance.

Thanks for reading. Contact me at dkeithly@coffeewithkenobi.com or on Twitter@DJKver2.

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3 Comments

  1. birdonabird
    May 23, 2016 at 09:17 Reply

    If you look at the ‘balance’ during and around the time of the Old Republic (SWTOR era, or Revan’s time even) even during times of war, the Jedi are meant to be protectors and peacekeepers – protecting non-Force-Sensitives and the innocent from the Sith Empire. Like you said, ‘doctors’ helping the galaxy to be its healthiest. I think the Jedi themselves serve balance, while the Sith (and even non-Force-sensitives like Tarkin or Hux) serve chaos.

    It also makes me think of what happened in Bloodlines. Neither Luke nor any Jedi played a significant part in the events – unless you count Leia, but I digress. Things unfolded the way they did without any literal Jedi influence, without saying overly much, toward chaos.

  2. Lor San Tekka and the Balance of the Force
    May 24, 2016 at 12:43 Reply

    […] Dennis Keithly, writing for Coffee With Kenobi: […]

  3. Melinda
    May 31, 2016 at 08:15 Reply

    It’s true that this is only my opinion, my take on the idea that there can be Balance to the Force, but if you’re interested, please read on…

    Luke and Anakin DID bring balance to the Force at the close of “Return of the Jedi”. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that balance will exist for eternity. Just as peace does not. Sometimes, something happens, and peace ceases to be. That, too, is true where balance to the Force is concerned.

    Snoke and his Knights of Ren rose to power, decimated the fledgling Jedi Order Luke was building. Luke went into hiding (as some say), and the Dark Side was allowed to gain power without any checking. For there to be true balance, good and evil must be equal. In other words, good (the Jedi) must be present to keep the darkness in check (or held at bay). That is what Lor San Tekka meant when he said, “Without the Jedi (Luke, in this case), there can be no balance.”

    You’re absolutely right — not everything every character utters should be taken as “gospel”. Lor San Tekka may have been speaking from a vantage point of knowledge and experience, but it is much more reasonable that he is coming from a place of wisdom and opinion. 🙂 Even sentiment.

    I definitely like your analogy to the health of one’s body. You may have hit the nail on the head. 🙂 “Balance” really is about keeping everything in working order. When illness edges its way in — whether something “small” (a judgment call) like a cold or something much more nefarious — one’s balance certainly is thrown out of whack. The quest — to bring about balance (health) once again. Yes, good call, Dennis. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Before I close, I’d just like to add that I am a big fan of Lor San Tekka. It just goes to show — no role is too small in the Star Wars Galaxy. 🙂

    MTFBWY 🙂

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