The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Self-Doubt (and What It Means for Episode IX)

“Your perception is your reality.” This was one of the first ideologies my father ever taught me, and it is very reminiscent of Qui- Gon’s, “Your focus determines your reality.” My dad may not be a Jedi, but Qui-Gon is; in fact he may be the pinnacle Jedi. Therefore, what he says carries weight, just like what a father says to his son carries weight.

The way we see things greatly alters how we see things. It is an endless cycle that we are destined (damned?) to find ourselves in. We see the good in the bad, the bad in the good, or some mix of the two, as everything is a mix of the two. Life is good and evil, light and dark, right and wrong. One cannot exist without the other, same as the Naboo and the Gungans. But when we focus only on one, we can annihilate the other one, creating a terrible imbalance. The Senate did this, focusing on winning a war that was a lie instead of the great evil right in front of their face.

Our heroes do so too.

Anakin has his dreams about his mother. He sees her in pain and agony and knows he must do something. Let it be clear, he was not wrong about that. Wanting to prevent a loved one from dying is not a bad thing, in and of itself. However, Anakin’s motivations were completely out of place. As a nine year old slave boy, he promised to come free his mother because of his love for her. As a 19 year old Jedi Padawan, he goes to save her because he cannot imagine his life with her gone. There is, without doubt, a layer that wants to save her out of love. But the majority of his intention stands behind his fear of the pain that will come should she die.

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That pain comes, and it comes because of him. This is wherein we must draw a very specific line. On one side of that line is that which can be controlled, and on the other side is that which cannot be controlled. When we try to manipulate one, we damage the other. In this case, Anakin tried to make move the line so that everything fell within that which he could control. The misconstrued idea of what Jedi were lead him down a path where pain was a problem. Where sadness was the enemy. Where struggle was a failure.

Fear drove Anakin to save his mother. Fear of what he might become. In doing so, he became that which he feared. Much the same can be said about his dreams regarding Padme. He saw her die in childbirth, and in doing so he lead to a course of action that lead to her dying in childbirth. He rushed to Palpatine’s assistance like a starving dog begging for scraps, clinging to the tiniest bit of hope, even if that hope was a lie. Thus, he became the very thing he swore to destroy.

Well, like father like son. Some 50 years and a lot of dead Jedi later, Luke makes the exact same mistake his father made. He saw something he didn’t know how to handle and, instead of working through it, tried to go around it. Standing over Ben Solo, he saw the image of Kylo Ren, of the pain he would bring, and he decided to end the problem before it got started. It is an idea that “passed as a fleeting shadow,” but not one without consequence. In trying to prevent the coming of Kylo Ren, he ushered in the coming of Kylo Ren.

Image result for luke over ben last jedi

The downfall(s) of the galaxy cannot rest solely on the shoulders of Anakin and Luke, as there were a lot of other things going on around those moments. All the while, that’s not a demerit to the truth that both Jedi tried to prevent something out of their control, and thus made that thing become a reality. There self-doubt created that which caused their self-doubt.

This is why Rey is so extremely important. It is important that she isn’t a Skywalker, because she does not bear that legacy. Even more importantly, she is a person who grew up in an environment where self-doubt was paramount to death. She had no choice but to claw and fight, literally at times, for everything she had. Luke nor Anakin had to do that, at least not to such an extent. Thus, Rey is not someone who immediately goes to self-doubt. She knows she can handle problems because that is exactly what she has done her entire life. Confidence has been her survival mechanism for over a decade.

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Okay, but doesn’t she make what she saw in her vision come true? Doesn’t she fall victim to the self-fulfilling prophecy idea too? Yes and no. Certainly, what she sees of KyloBen standing by her side and turning on Snoke came true. But she made this come true via her confidence. Anakin and Luke made their fears come true because of self-doubt. That intention makes a world of difference, because when everything goes to poodoo, she still has solid ground to stand on. She knows exactly who she is.

In Empire, Luke rushed to face Vader. In The Last Jedi, Rey rushed to save Ben. Rian Johnson made this very clear, with his direct allusions to Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Both made undeniably, foolishly large mistakes. Nonetheless, there is a difference, and that difference will be the key in Episode IX. It is not that Rey is a Mary Sue, because she is not by any stretch of the imagination nor understanding of the word. What she is is strong, confident, and a self-made woman who can save the galaxy. As long as she doesn’t doubt herself, that is….

 

 

 

Cover photo credit: http://orig10.deviantart.net/bff3/f/2016/003/7/e/rey_starwars_by_kasai-d9mk7tb

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