What he said was true from a certain point of view.
One of the great things about Star Wars is that it inspires endless debates and opinions on a wide array of topics. Best bounty hunter? Most powerful Jedi? Does Salacious Crumb have the best haircut in the saga? In that spirit, StarWars.com presents From a Certain Point of View: a series of point-counterpoints on some of the biggest — and most fun — Star Wars issues. In this installment, two StarWars.com writers take a stand on whether or not Obi-Wan was right to tell Luke that Darth Vader murdered his father.
Obi-Wan wasn't wrong in his phrasing, says Michael.
We can all agree that lying is a bad thing. It erodes the trust that people place in us, and it damages the trust we’re able to place in others. After all, once you set the standard for lying in a relationship, you can’t really blame anyone for following your example. And yet -- and yet -- maybe there are certain times when manipulating the truth isn’t such a bad thing?
Look, I can’t say Obi-Wan was totally right in the way he omitted certain…facts about Luke Skywalker's father. But, at the same time, it’s hard to say Obi-Wan was wrong.
Imagine you’re Obi-Wan. You’ve been living on this desert rock furthest from the bright center of the universe for years, with one singular purpose governing your existence: protect the son of your best friend -- the best friend who, by the way, you struck down and left for dead in a lava pit. That’s it. That's all you live for, alone, with little to occupy your time other than being haunted by your past.
Palpatine and the Empire rose to power on the Jedi's watch; Anakin was seduced by the dark side right under Obi-Wan’s nose. To say the stakes were high for Obi-Wan would be a vast understatement.
And this young boy not only needs your protection; you've been watching and waiting knowing that one day he would also need your guidance. And by helping him understand the best aspects of his family history, he’s your one chance to set right what you got so terribly wrong.
Obi-Wan could not fail. He needed Luke for his own redemption. The galaxy needed Luke if it was ever going to win back its freedom -- Luke, not Obi-Wan, was really the hope Leia spoke of, and the old wizard knew it.
As Obi-Wan once said,“I will do what I must.” He exists for duty, to uphold the Jedi way and its principles, to fulfill his mission to shepherd Luke. I’m sure Obi-Wan would have relished educating Luke on both his and his father’s lives in a way that no one else possibly could. But he didn’t. Instead, he once again protected Luke, just as he’d been protecting him his entire life, knowing full well that the revelation that Luke's father was the most evil, reviled, and feared man in the galaxy may well have stopped Luke right in his tracks. The impact of that unimaginably grim truth -- as Obi-Wan knows better than anyone -- could have stymied any hope of Luke reaching his potential and doing what he must: Helping save the galaxy from the clutches of the evil Empire.
Was Obi-Wan right for hiding the truth from Luke? Like the Jedi Knight himself says, from a certain point of view, what he told Luke was true. When Darth Vader was born, more machine than man, the good man who was Anakin Skywalker was destroyed. Obi-Wan’s point of view is nothing if not experienced. No one knows better what the trauma of learning the truth about Anakin Skywalker can do to a person. Obi-Wan, ever dutiful, ever vigilant, did what he had to do. And he wasn’t wrong.
Sorry, but Obi-Wan was wrong, says Jamie.
Obi-Wan was wrong. There. I said it.
After Order 66 destroyed the only life he knew, Obi-Wan was indeed left with a singular purpose: protect Luke Skywalker from the Empire while living in the shadows. When it finally came time to face Luke and the inevitable question -- “How did my father die?” -- Obi-Wan chose to lie. He must have had a reason, right?
Obi-Wan told Luke exactly what he wanted to hear. Up to that point, Luke had been kind of aimless. He was reluctantly following his uncle's family business as a moisture farmer, wasting time with his friends buying power converters, playing with toy spaceships, and looking to the stars. The one thing he knew for sure was that he wanted off Tatooine. He wanted off that planet so badly that he was ready to join the Imperial Academy to do it.
So when Obi-Wan popped up and said, “Hey, forget everything you think you know. Your dad was actually a war hero! He was the best pilot in the galaxy! He was a great friend and then he was betrayed and murdered by this monster who’s still out there! Where’s the justice in that? Oh, and here's a cool lightsaber!" Well, it's hard to resist, isn't it?
What Michael says is true to a point. Luke Skywalker was the only hope for the Jedi to rise again and defeat the Empire and he was the last best hope for Obi-Wan to reverse the mistakes of his past. But he was also little more than a child.
So in that moment, did Obi-Wan truly believe the sheltered farm boy whom he watched grow up in the middle of nowhere was ready to be the galaxy’s savior? I doubt it. What he did believe was that Luke needed training. In time, maybe Luke would make a decent Jedi. But in that moment, Luke was just a kid. So was Obi-Wan protecting Luke by stoking his wanderlust and dreams of glory? Hardly.
And here’s the thing. He fed Luke that line about Vader seducing and murdering his father before they even saw Leia’s message and plea for help, which means the lie was always part of the plan. He’d always planned to “trick” Luke into fighting for the cause. Which means he was actively breaking the Jedi Code ("There is no ignorance; there is knowledge") in order to deceive Luke. Which shows that Obi-Wan really didn’t learn much from his failure with Anakin, the obliteration of the Jedi Order, or his years of solitude.
Obi-Wan’s plan -- the whole long game of it -- was predicated on this deception. And you know what happens when kids discover you’ve lied to them? They lose trust in you. They lash out and actively go against you. Sound familiar, Obi-Wan?
As Michael admits in his defense of the old wizard, Palpatine and the Empire rose to power right under his nose. Anakin pretty blatantly turned to the dark side while under Obi-Wan’s guidance. And the entire Jedi Order was wiped out without even an inkling of foresight. For thousands of years, they ensured peace and justice in the galaxy…until one guy with a nefarious plan tore it all down. Obi-Wan should have learned a lesson from that.
In the end, Luke was successful despite Obi-Wan. Then what’s the big deal? Why was he wrong to lie? It was wrong because of what it says about the Jedi -- that, even in the face of extinction, they’re incapable of learning, unwilling to change, and unable to admit when they’re wrong.
What do you think? Do you agree with Michael or Jamie? Let us know on social using #FromACertainPOV!
Michael Moreci is a comics writer and novelist best known for his sci-fi trilogy Roche Limit. His debut novel, Black Star Renegades, was released in January 2018. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelMoreci.
Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He’s also a contributor to GeekDad and runs The Roarbots, where he focuses on awesome geeky stuff that happens to be kid-friendly. On top of that, he cohosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates geek culture by talking to people who create it. With two little ones and a vast Star Wars collection at home, he’s done the unthinkable: allowed them full access to most of his treasure from the past 30 years, opening and playing with whatever they want (pre-1983 items excluded).
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