Jedi are kind, compassionate, and empathetic. We are defenders of peace and sworn to help those in need. It’s only natural for us to want to help others. But we must always be aware of our actions and the effects that they can have.
“The Force binds all things. The slightest push, the smallest touch, sends echoes throughout life.”
These are the words of the fallen Jedi Master Kreia from the “Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords” video game. There are those that might scoff at any potential knowledge that a fictional video game character might have to offer, but they would be missing out on some great nuggets of wisdom. Throughout the game, Kreia is a constant advocate of balance, foresight, and understanding that all actions have consequences.
A notable example occurs when the PC (player’s character) and Kreia are on the planet of Nar Shaddaa. Shortly after disembarking from your ship in the “Refugee Sector'' of the planet, the PC and their party are approached by a beggar in need of help. The beggar asks the PC if they have any spare credits to give them. The PC is faced with a choice: give aid to the beggar in need, or ridicule and abuse them. This decision that you make as the PC is mostly based on the alignment that you’ve chosen to follow, light side or dark side. But regardless, the choice is yours.
As Jedi, one could assume that we would all choose to help the beggar. If the PC makes this choice, the beggar thanks them for their aid and runs off to, presumably, use the credits given to them to buy what they were in desperate need of. Kreia steps in at this point and admonishes the PC for their choice,
“Why did you do such a thing? Such kindnesses will mean nothing, his path is set. Giving him what he has not earned is like pouring sand into his hands.”
The PC argues that even this small act might truly help the beggar, if only to survive another day.
“And would that be a kindness?” Kreia responds. “What if by surviving another day, he brings darkness upon another? By giving him something he has not earned, perhaps all you have helped him become is a target. Seeing another elevated often brings the eyes of others who suffer. And perhaps in the end, all you have wrought is more pain.”
We see, in a cutscene that goes along with this dialogue, that Kreia is indeed correct. The beggar is robbed and beaten by another who saw that they had gotten the credits from you. In the end, he is left worse off than before. A similar outcome takes place if the PC chooses to hurt the beggar rather than help him. You are again admonished by Kreia for giving into your feelings and using your power to cause the beggar pain.
“Cruelty leads to suffering. And when one suffers, it is the way of life to spread suffering. The suffering within builds, until its sound is all one hears. And when a kindness is offered, it is punished.”
In the accompanying cutscene, we see Kreia’s words again ring true. The beggar, utterly miserable and dejected, takes out their rage and frustration on another refugee who stops to offer them their aid.
What can we glean from these interactions? Of course we must realize that these are fictitious events played out specifically and purposefully to prove Kreia’s point, furthering the game’s storyline and character development between her and the PC. But is there any truth to what she has to say? I feel that there are several questions that we need to ask ourselves in this regard:
What are the consequences for each action we take?
How far do our “echoes” go?
By helping someone in need, do we hurt them in other ways?
Can something as seemingly unimportant as a curt remark or negative
interaction derail someone else's life completely?
The short answer is yes. ALL actions have consequences, whether they are big or small. Now, that’s not to say that if you give change to someone asking for money that they’ll later get beaten and robbed, or that if you are rude or abusive to someone that they’ll go home and take it out on their family. The point is that we simply have no clear metric on just how impactful the consequences of our actions can be.
Balance, foresight, wisdom; these things are so crucial to our paths. Knowing that even the littlest actions have consequences forces us to look at things through the proverbial “Jedi lens” at all times. For being a Jedi isn’t just something that you do, it’s something that you are.
Be a Jedi at all times, be aware of your actions, be balanced in your approach. Find the wisdom to discern when and where your help is actually needed. Sometimes a cry for help is just a desire to be heard. By intervening where it’s not actually necessary, you may be robbing someone of an experience that will make them stronger in the long run. Sometimes the person who you find annoying, burdensome, or insignificant can have the biggest impact on your life. By overlooking them, writing them off, or ridiculing them, you’re burning a bridge that you both might’ve needed to cross at some point in the future. Not everyone who you criticize or scorn is deserving of it, and not everyone who seems to need a helping hand actually does.
“And that is my lesson to you. Be careful of charity and kindness, lest you do more harm with open hands than with a clenched fist.”