Extremes

In the light, there is a darkness and in the darkness, a light. It is the way with us all. Be a prisoner of neither Bogan nor Ashla. Strive to live in balance. As Tython itself teaches us, it is dangerous to do otherwise. And the danger is there—always.
~Ketu – Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm 1

The Je’daii Order was an ancient organization unified by its belief and observance of the Force on the planet Tython, in the galaxy’s Deep Core. Focusing on maintaining a balance in the Force, a state at which Tython was itself hospitable, the Je’daii saw the Force as three aspects of a whole; the Ashla (light), the Bogan (Dark), and the Bendu (balance). They saw this duality in the Force represented in the night sky of Tython in the form of two natural satellites; one bathed in light, the Ashla, another shrouded in darkness, the Bogan. In keeping with their view of balance, Je’daii who fell too far to either the light or dark were exiled to one of the moons to meditate until they returned to balance.
~Copied from Wookipedia

With the current plot of Rebels teamed with Luke’s ominous words in the trailer for The Last Jedi, many people are discussing the possibility of Grey Jedi becoming a thing as well as just the Force and Jedi in general.  Just this past Friday, I went in for a fitting for a Amazon series I am working on this week, and ended up in a debate with one of the crew guys, who was all excited that he thought Star Wars was going Grey Jedi.  I cannot say what Disney/LFL plans, when you look at the origins of the Jedi though (at least within legends), the balance between dark and light was the whole focus of the Jedi.

Extremes are usually bad, and the original Jedi order knew that.  Too much food will make you sick and overweight.  Too little food will make you malnourished.  Too little sun will cause Vitamin D deficiencies and possibly depression (those who have experienced Seasonal Affective Disorder can attest to this), too much sun can result in skin cancer.  To little water and you can become dehydrated, too much water can cause hyponatremia (the inside of cells flood due to abnormally low sodium and electrolyte levels in your blood stream) and can lead to seizures, coma, and even death.  ANYTHING in excess is bad, the key is to find moderation.

This is true too with the Force.  The appearance of the unrelenting lawman is a popular trope in fiction; the character that follows the law to the letter and makes no exceptions for any reason.  This person is often a villain, and ends up either learning the error in their ways, or ends up destroying themselves (think Inspector Javert from Les Miserables, who after realizing the man he spent his life chasing is not the evil villain he made him out to be, commits suicide because he is unable to reconcile his world to this reality).  This is ultimately what happen to the Jedi Order.Not only did they become too focused on following the “light side” of the Force, but they got lost in the political and war time extremes that came with serving the republic.  They lost the stance that Qui-Gon enforced when on Naboo; “I can only protect you, I cannot fight a war for you.”

The Jedi as they were had fallen too far twords the Ashla, as it were, and needed to find balance once again, as was we all on our own Jedi paths, as well as in all the paths we pursue in our lives.

Assuming Tone

While the internet makes communication easier and faster in most cases, it also tends to cause a great deal of confusion in the matter of tone of voice.  When you cannot hear a persons tone, you may misinterpret something completely innocent as being snide, combative, or sarcastic.  Emoji’s can help clarify this in a casual setting, but the use of emoji’s is not considered professional.  In addition, a language difference of any sort can cause increased confusion.  Many times my own writing is misinterpreted because I tend to write more formally, and like to experiment with words for variety.  I have had people who learned English as a second language think I was trying to be a smart ass because of this, when I was not intentionally using big words, it is just how I talk/write (it was my manager at a job when I was about 20 years old, she was Korean, barely spoke English).

One of my recent blogs came under scrutiny from a few people for assumed tone, when what I was doing was simply listing off data.  Rather than question me, they questioned the person who had posted a link to that entry, but they informed me and I was able to address it.  Still, for the sake of clarity, I try very hard NOT to use a tone in my blog posts.  I will often re-write something half a dozen times because I find myself becoming too worked up, and I have even shelved posts I could not find a way to word without my own emotion.  My own opinions, yes, but not an excess of emotionalism.   That is one of the reasons I typically write my blog entries weeks, even months in advance; it gives me a chance to ruminate on what I have written and see if I want to add anything or change the wording.

Fact is, you cannot assume tone.  If you think someone is writing something a certain way, especially if you do not know them well, it is better to take a step back and look at just the words, removing all assumption of tone. If you are still unsure, ask the person to clarify, and take care to do so without adding your own accusatory tone, which could only serve to turn a misunderstanding into a conflict.

Jedi Robes

Every now and then the topic of Jedi Robes surges in the community.  Certain people wear them, and demand allowances for them in situations where they may not be appropriate, causing a stir both in the Jedi community and in their local community.  They claim that it is a uniform, or that it is the dress required by their religion.  Most of what I think on that can be summed up in two quotes:

“The tunics, robes, and cloaks worn by Jedi are honored traditions, but not uniforms.  From the time they become Padawans, Jedi are free to dress as they choose.”

~The Visual Dictionary of Star Wars, Episode II – Attack of the Clones (p16) – Edited by David West Reynolds, Robert E. Barnes, Don Bies, and John Goodson.

“Jedi robes are virtually indistinguishable from the simple robes worn by many species throughout the galaxy.  This signifies the Jedi pledge to the service and protection of even the most humble galactic citizen.

~The Visual Dictionary of Star Wars, Episode I – Attack of the Clones (p15) – Edited by David West Reynolds, Robert E. Barnes, Don Bies, and John Goodson.

Throughout the fiction there are numerous examples of Jedi who do not wear the standard robes (Ashoka Tano for the most known example).

There are also numerous examples of Jedi who even though they DO wear the standard robes normally, dress differently when the situation requires it (Qui-Gon to blend in on  Tatooine puts a poncho over his robes, Anakin dresses differently when escorting Padmé to Naboo in order to go unnoticed, and if I looked harder, I am sure I could find examples that do not apply to disguises, but I am typing this at work).

The robes are just clothing, and are not required attire.

The purpose of a Jedi is to quell conflict, and encourage peace and diplomacy.  If the wearing of “standard” robes causes conflict, undue attention, or other issues, the first instinct of a Jedi should be to wear something else, not to cause a big ruckus over their “religious rights” (the question of religion not to be addressed at this moment).

Paying for Training

In an idealistic world, the Jedi of our reality would be like the Jedi of the movies.  Sanctioned by the government, with several bases that we live at when not out on missions and all of our basic need provided for.  Unfortunately, I do not see that happening…well…ever.  The reality of it is, that we all function independently, and while there may be groups that we belong to, chances are, there will never be a group that is able to provide basic living needs, unless one of us wins the lottery and decided to invest it all in the Jedi.  So, we must provide for ourselves.  Like everyone else in the world, we must find a job/career that we are a good at, and hopefully that we also somewhat enjoy and is in harmony with our path.

As groups progress however, there is always a push to be recognized, and to be the official group.  In that, they try to look and act more official, websites, newsletters, ecc.  This stuff CAN cost money, and it can be tempting, and seem even reasonable to those in charge, to consider charging fees to its members.  Suddenly, not only are we not provided for like in the Star Wars Universe, but it is the exact opposite and it is costing us money to be a Jedi?

Can it cost money?  Yes, but you can also do it all for free.  Sure, you can build a fancy site with a domain name, and have leaders who are dedicated to doing nothing but web design, writing newsletters, writing training, ecc.  However, if the goal is disseminating knowledge, you can do it for free.  There are free servers that will allow you to create a basic site, sure you will need to have a silly address that is not a fancy “www.myawesometemplename.com,” but it still serves the purpose.  Get a free domain, get a free forum, hell, get a blog ;).  Even if you want a fancy domain name or such, they are not terribly expensive.  I pay $10/month for website hosting…I could probably get cheaper…from what I hear, registering a domain is even less than that.  The purpose is the sharing of knowledge, not of money.

If there is too much work for one or two people to do on their own while still having jobs, then consider restructuring the workload somehow, either by better pacing, or by bringing in others to help (some tasks can be great experience for students, and there could be friends and family who are not interested in the path themselves, but support it and are willing to help…not everyone helping with the running of a group must be a knight).

We live in an age where information is increasingly available online, for free.  To my knowledge, there are no Jedi groups that offer anything that cannot be found at other groups, or through personal reading and research.  Being a Jedi is something that will probably never make someone rich, but it is not about that.  If you want to be rich and a Jedi, pursue a career with lucrative possibilities, there are many out there that still work with being a Jedi.  And if you are considering a group that does charge, really dig in and find out what it is that they are charging for.  Chances are, it is nothing you cannot find elsewhere…in fact, you could probably even find better.  Save your money for more important things.

The FIRST Temple of the Jedi Order (TJO)

Way back in the early 00’s, there was a lot of talk about trying to create one standard for the community and merging sites.  While I think there is still some desire for an ultimate standard, for the most part, we have given up trying to make it one group.

In 2004, there were several larger sites, two of them being the Jedi Temple and  the Jedi United.  At the time, Jedi Temple had the most structured training program, while the Jedi United had the first real structured Knighthood trial with the JEE.  Myself, as well as several others were members of both sites, and discussions began about merging the two sites.  I personally had trained in the Blue Group at the Jedi Temple, and I was then holding the title of Secretary at the Jedi United, so I was taking on an administrative role with the merger (basically just taking care of the forums themselves with no involvement in the training and trials).

Initially, the plan was to make this merge gradual, slowly building the site and combining the knowledge of the two groups.  However, there was a snag, in that someone with administrative power over the Jedi United (who had also resigned their position on the council by that point) *coughOpiecough* planned to delete the forum.  I do not recall all the details of why, or how exactly we found out, but suddenly we had to push up our time table.

In the span of one night now, myself, with the help of Demetrius Vorak, threw together a forum and thus came about the prematurely born Temple of the Jedi Order.  We made a conscious decision to refer to it as the TJO in short, rather than keep the “of the” in the acronym, as there seemed to be too many “of the” sites out there using those in the acronym…we liked the shorter acronym.  The forum still sort of exists here, as I had access to the account that created the forum and managed to keep it through the ezboard purge.  All the discussions, I have since moved to a single archive forum, which I believe is open to the public, so you can go through and see how the discussions progressed for yourself, though most accounts are no longer associated with their original names, so it can get confusing if you do not know the players (and they did not use signatures.

Basically, it all happened too fast.  We took the leadership from both sites and combined them, but those from the Jedi Temple were waiting for those from the Jedi United to put up their test, and those from the Jedi United were waiting for those from the Jedi Temple to put up their training.  Other leaders who were assigned other positions were waiting for anyone to do anything.  People coming to the board were applying and wondering why their applications were not being processed.  Eventually, people became frustrated; leaders resigned and members left.

Some look at this as an example of why merging sites was a bad idea, but from an insiders view, I think it could have worked.  Had the proper time and steps been taken, the TJO could have thrived, instead it was rushed and caused us to lose two of the most popular sites of the time.  It is a lesson in not rushing.  It is also a lesson of weak leadership.  We needed someone or someones to step up and make a plan, form an agenda, but everyone was deferring to everyone else to do something.

Some time after the TJO dissolved, a new group took the name (how they came to choosing that name, I have no idea…hell, I do not even remember why TJO chose the name, or who even came up with it), but the group is completely different.  TotJO bases everything on Jedi being a religion, the training takes a minimum of six months, and to my understanding, none of the original members of TJO were involved.  TJO did not take a religious stance, and training took….well, I am not sure the training program was ever entirely finished, but it took a minimum of at least one year, probably more.

TJO had an important role in the history of the Jedi community, yet it has become mostly forgotten. The members are all but gone, and a new site has written over the memory, but I believe in knowing where you came from, and TJO was part of that.

Over-Analyzing

During my second year of college, I took an English Composition class.  For one of the papers, we spent a class going through stacks of magazines in groups, and each group was supposed to select an ad which disturbed them, and then write an essay describing the ad in detail and then explaining what was disturbing about it.

I remember her talking about one ad…with a guy wearing loafers and a goth looking girl coming after him.  She wanted us to be offended by the ad.  Sure, it was silly and unbelievable, but I did not find it offensive.

I did learn something important from that lesson, but not what the instructor intended, I am sure.  I learned that if you try hard enough, you can find meaning in anything, but that meaning is not what was intended, just what you projected.

There is a fine line between properly analyzing something and over-analyzing it.  It is like saying a word over and over again, to the point that it sounds weird and the meaning seems lost.  As Jedi, we need to learn to trust our instincts and gut reactions.  You cannot necessarily do so right out the gate, but gradually you learn through trial and error.  If you then start over-analyzing situations, you will discover meaning and intent that do not exist.

the_2de74d_2130342

Sometimes the curtains really are just blue.  Enjoy the color.  Move on.

 

The Ability to Fight

“A Jedi’s saber is his most precious possession.
He must keep it with him at all times.
This weapon is your life!”
~Obi-Wan Kenobi to Anakin Skywalker – Star Wars: Attack of the clones

“This weapon is your life, but it is also your responsibility. Don’t let it out of your sight.”
~Ashoka Tanno to Younglings – Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2 Episode 11 “Lightsaber Lost”

“Protect others, how does a Jedi, hmm?”
~Yoda about Lightsabers – Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 5 Episode 6 “The Gathering”

Any time we see any sort of Master/Padawan relationship within the fiction, inevitably there is a lesson at some point about the lightsabers.  Indeed, every single Jedi in fiction carries a lightsaber, they are even shown to by synonymous with them.

Anakin: You’re a Jedi Knight, aren’t you?
Qui-Gon Jinn: What makes you think that?
Anakin: I saw your laser sword. Only Jedi carry that kind of weapon.
~Anakin Skywalker and Qui-Gon Jinn – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Not only does every single Jedi in the fiction carry a lightsaber, but every single Jedi in the fiction is trained to USE their lightsaber.  Sure, they may never see combat for the rest of their lives, but they are trained to fight, and to defend themselves and others.

Imagine meeting a Jedi of the fiction.  While in their company, someone is attacked.  They scream for help, and the Jedi does nothing.  You ask the Jedi why they did not help, they tell you that they do not learn how to fight.

Or, an alternate scenario, the Jedi tries to defend the victim, but are obviously inept at doing so and is quickly and easily defeated.  You ask the Jedi why this happened, and they say they never learned how to fight.

The Jedi Path is very much a spiritual and intellectual path, but it is not ONLY such.  Being a Jedi, means combining that spirituality and intelligence with physical fitness and prowess.  This does not mean a Jedi should jump at every opportunity to fight, no, quite the opposite.  That is where the spiritual and intellectual sides kick in.  But a Jedi should be able to fight and defend themselves and others when it is necessary.  You can use all the diplomacy you want, but some times it just does not work.

Pacifism has its own virtues, and there is nothing inherently wrong with taking that stance.  However, when it boils down to it, pacifism is not the Jedi way.

You want to be a healer?  Great.  What happens when someone walks in on you when you are with a patient with intent to harm them, and there is no security around to stop them?

You want to be a diplomat?  Great.  What happens when you are off on a “mercy mission” and there is an attack?  Hell, look at Leia.  She came from a planet known for being peaceful and having no weapons, but she knew the importance of defending herself when necessary and was as capable as Han when it came to wielding a blaster (yes, I know, not a Jedi, but still a good example).

You want to be a librarian or historian?

ahsoka_vs_jocasta_nu

Defend those records!  None of that Library of Alexandria business on your watch!  (Yes, I am aware that was not actually Jocasta in that scene, but she still carried a lightsaber…you better bet she had learned how to use it).

Make any argument you want, if you really examine it though, every argument I have ever heard boils down to “I don’t like to fight.  I don’t want to learn how to fight.  So I do not consider fighting important to Jedi.”  The fiction and lore does not support this.

If you want to be a pacifist, if you want a path that focuses entirely on the spiritual and intellectual with no need to learn fighting, those paths exist and you are no better or worse for choosing those paths over Jedi, but learning to fight is part of the Jedi Path, proven again and again through pretty much every single piece of fiction we have been given on them.  Find the path that suits you, do not change the path to suit you.  Once you change it…it is no longer the same path.

******

Addendum: There is of course the issue of people with physical limitations and whether this means they can be a Jedi or not.  I would say this is to be taken on a case by case basis, and more important than a persons ability to fight in these scenarios, is a persons willingness to fight.  A person in a wheelchair with full use of their arms can still learn striking techniques.  A person missing a limb can still make use of their remaining limbs.  Jedi make due with what IS available to them, and what is possible, rather than focusing on what is not possible.  Someone with a physical disability has an automatic upper hand, in that they are not expected to be able to defend themselves.  Prove people wrong.

Mock Gathering: Fiji

Oh, Fiji!  You could not make this easy on my, could you?

From a price standpoint, there were some EXTREMELY affordable options in Fiji (six under $200 that I recorded), ranging from $6/night to $184/night.  Amenities however, were slightly trickier.  Some places had no wi-fi…fine, a weekend without the internet wont kill anyone, and it might be good for some.  Some places had not Air Conditioning, again, could be a good experience for those who have always had the luxury.  Some did not provide essentials…though I am still not 100% sure what falls into “essentials” as I have seen places say they do not offer essentials, but then later list that they do offer, what I would consider, essentials.

In the end, I found my favorite place to be Bougain’ville Suites.  The rate would be about $215/night plus food.  They have AC, they have wi-fi, they have essentials and a kitchen.  There are six bedrooms, 14 beds, and could sleep up to 22.  Oh, and it is the only one on my list that has a pool.  Of course, this is actually in Samoa, not Fiji.

The next best option would probably be what was titled “Home away from home, friendly.”  This one is actually in Tonga, but the rate is more affordable at $55/night plus food.  It has all the same amenities, except one…AC.   A trade off, to be sure.

The activities in this area mostly center around the aquatic, some lodgings offering arrangements for Whale Watching/Swimming, Cave Diving, and Snorkeling, but also Hiking and other land activities.  Fiji has a couple of temples, there are volcanoes and blowholes throughout the Island, and a lot of different cultural sites and activities.

Top Things to Do in Fiji
21 Things to Do in Samoa
Things to Do in Tonga

 

The “Old Guard”

One term that was completely new to me when I returned to the Jedi Community last year was the “Old Guard.”  Evidently it had become a term to describe those who were around “back-in-the-day,” though I have never really seen a defining line of what constitutes “Old Guard.”

Of all of the Jedi still active today, I only know of one who has been around longer than I have, and that is Opie (and just barely).  There are a couple who I have seen say they were around from about the same time as us, but none I could confirm.  They were Jedi who stuck to one board or another generally, a lot from Jedi Academy or Force Academy, and I did not tend to be overly active at either of them, so like I said, I cannot confirm (though I am not saying they are lying).  The rest of the Jedi out there pretty much came from 2004 and forward, which is still a decent length of time, though again, most of these I never interacted with.

One of the attendees of the 2016 Stronghold Gathering approached me on Saturday night and said something along the lines of “I know you are, like, Old-OLD Guard.”  If my eyebrows were capable of rising individually, one would have climbed new heights at this.  Yeah, I was around since practically the inception of the Jedi community, so “Old Guard” was not?  What about these people claiming join dates of the same time as myself?  People who still seem to be in the same place that they were back then.

What is the “Old Guard?”

 

Well, nothing really.  Yeah, it is pretty neat for some of us to be able to say we were there at the beginning, but while that is cool, and COULD mean something…it does not necessarily mean anything.  We witnessed a lot…if we got out of a singular bubble community, yes, but that is not to say we have all grown from what we have seen.  You can respect a person for being around a long time, but at the same time, you should look at who they are.  Is this someone who seems to have learned from all their time?  Or is this someone who is still rehashing the same struggles and not learning at all?

Just like you cannot put a time stamp on when in the future you will be a knight, you cannot look at how long a person has been on a path already and know anything from it.  Judge by actions, not by time.