Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Choices: Or how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader

"...choose this day whom you will serve..." Joshua 24:15b

I'm a big fan of Star Wars.  I've seen all six episodes.  I've seen Episode IV (the original Star Wars movie) about three or four times.  I have a confession though.  My favorite character is Darth Vader.

Darth Vader is a classic villain.  He has such a presence when he strides across the screen.  The choice of James Earl Jones to be his voice is excellent.  And then there's the theme music.  Darth Vader is quite the villain

But Darth Vader didn't start out that way.  When we first meet him he is a kind and generous nine year old boy named Anakin Skywalker.  He lived with his mother on a far off desert planet.  Both of them were slaves. 

Anakin was a gifted little boy.  He had a knack for fixing any type of machinery.  He was the only human who could fly the racing pod.  Last but not least, the Force was strong with him.  By the end of Episode I Anakin was a padawan, a child in training to become a Jedi.

Episode II is where we begin to see the progression towards Darth Vader.  Anakin was very attached to his mother.  He was sad about leaving her.  He began having bad dreams about her which tormented him.  Finally he decided to go to his home planet and look for her.  In doing so he disobeyed an order.  He was to stay where he was and protect Princess Amidala.  Anakin found his mother.  She had been taken by raiders and beaten very badly.  She died in his arms.  Anakin in his grief used his Jedi powers to destroy the whole village.  He killed men, women, and children.  That was his first step towards the Dark Side.

The end of Episode II finds Anakin secretly married to Padme (Princess Amidala).  Jedi aren't supposed to have such attachments.  Attachments can make Jedi vulnerable to manipulation and undue influence.  So this was Anakin's second step towards the Dark Side.

The next step came in Episode III.  Anakin and Obi Wan are attempting to rescue Senator Palpatine from kidnappers.  During the struggle Anakin has a duel with Count Dooku.  Anakin defeats Dooku, having cut off both his hands.  But on Palpatine's order he kills Dooku.  This goes against the Jedi code.  Jedi do not kill someone who is defenseless.

In the course of the movie we find out that Padme is pregnant.  Anakin begins to have troubling dreams about Padme dying in childbirth.  By this time he has become somewhat close to Senator Palpatine.  During a concert, Palpatine tells a story about an apprentice Jedi  who killed his master. The master had discovered the secret of immortality.  The Jedi wanted the secret for himself.  At that moment Anakin realizes that Palpatine is a Sith.  He was the apprentice who killed his master. 

Anakin's transformation comes when the Jedi try to arrest Palpatine.  Palpatine promises Anakin that he can save Padme's life.  So Anakin pledges his allegiance to Palpatine and is renamed Darth Vader.  His first act as Vader is to go to the Jedi temple and destroy it.  Anakin kills everyone; men, women, and the padawans; the children.  Now, Anakin is definitely on the Dark Side.

As I said at the beginning, Darth Vader didn't start out as Darth Vader.  It was through a series of decisions; choices that put Anakin on the path to the Dark Side. 

I believe that our choices have a great impact on who we become.  At school we have the choice to hang with the kids that cut school or hang with kids who want to get an education.  At work we can associate with the people who are always complaining or associate with the ones who are positive.  Of course there things that come up that we have no control over.  We have no control over whether a hurricane will flood a city.  We have no control whether a tornado will tear up a neighborhood.  But we do have a choice as how we will respond to these events. 

Who we are is a reflection of our choices.  I pray we all make wise ones.

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