Of all the hidden gems of philosophy in the Star Wars movie franchise, I feel the exchange between Chancellor Palpatine and Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith might be the most thought-provoking.
If you ponder what Palpatine said with an open mind (aka: your third eye, which should always be open), it should make you question whether what would become the First Galactic Empire under the Sith is truly “evil” and the Republic under the protection of the Jedi is truly “good”. Furthermore, is a rebellion against an established government really a good thing?
One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s seditious terrorist. It is truly dependent upon a certain point of view as to whether one sees a freedom fighter or a terrorist.
As Obi Wan Kenobi said to Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi, many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view (Star Wars fans will totally see what I did with the last two paragraphs).
To move this theoretical analysis of a theatrical film into the realm of reality, what is considered good or bad truly is a point of view.
Do you think when one country invades another that the invading country is evil and the country so invaded is benevolent?
Is a rebellion against a sovereign government a noble cause and the sovereign government fighting against that rebellion ignoble?
Very clearly, allegiance to one’s own country, beliefs, and interests trumps any sympathy or empathy for the opposing side, but that’s stating the obvious, and the obvious is beside the point.
What I want my readers to take away from this post is that dichotomous thinking is what leads one to the conclusion that their cause is just and an opposing cause is unjust.
It is human nature to consider one’s own side as being on the side of the angels, but then a very powerful and valuable perspective is lost in thinking this way.
To know your enemy is to understand your enemy.
What is his motivation?
What makes him tick?
How resolute is he in fighting for his cause and against your cause?
The crux of this little thought exercise is to guard against being too righteous in support of your own cause. The best way to undermine an opponent is to understand the opponent and his raison d’etre. It will reveal as much about your side as it will about the opposing side.
-The Rational Ram