(Write-up by Elaine Tveit, Dork Side of the Force Assistant Editor)
Next to Darth Vader, C-3PO, and R2-D2, Yoda may be the most recognizable character from the Star Wars saga to the world at large. This is likely due to more than his wizened green looks and strange way of speaking. In the Star Wars universe as well as in ours, Yoda is a wealth of wisdom that has guided more than one young person to their destiny.
“For 800 years have I trained Jedi,” Yoda tells Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back. Said in a tiny fire-lit hut on an oozing swamp, it may have been hard to believe that those words came from a powerful Jedi Master. But in the days of the Republic, Yoda was the leader of the Jedi Council and the foremost authority on the Force and its mysterious ways. His vision and knowledge made him a respected individual both inside and outside the Jedi Temple. But in those dark times leading up to the Clone Wars, even Yoda’s connection to the Force grew clouded. Though he was given vague insight into the future from mystical places, as well as the Force ghost of Qui Gon Jinn, he still could not prevent the destruction of the Jedi Order at the hands of Emperor Palpatine, the Sith lord who eluded him for so many years, and Palpatine’s new apprentice, once the pride of the Jedi Order, Anakin Skywalker. All Yoda’s skill and power in the Force was no match for Palpatine; the balance of the Force had long shifted out of his favor. There was nothing left for him to do but to go into hiding on Dagobah and wait for the coming of the new hope: Luke Skywalker, Anakin Skywalker’s son.
Yoda’s training of Luke is about more than just learning how to use the Force; it’s about achieving a connection with the Force. It’s also about finding peace within yourself. And it is also about the pursuit of a higher calling. “Luminous beings, are we,” teaches Yoda, “not this crude matter.”
It is in Yoda that the more spiritual quality of Star Wars shines. Most of us want to feel that we are something more than we appear, that we have a greater potential that we simply can’t connect to yet. Yoda shows us that that potential is there. As he lifts Luke’s crashed X-Wing from the swamp, to the disbelief of Luke himself, we see his power, quiet and unobtrusive, but present. He is humble in his abilities, yet the abilities are there nonetheless. He serves as a lesson that we can and should live up to our greatest potential. And in so doing, he becomes an essential part of Luke’s story, that of the Star Wars saga, and even our own.
Next: Old Ben