Sorry in advance, this is just what happens when it’s too cold to leave the house and I end up watching Star Wars. I’ve always been interested in the role that forgiveness played throughout Star Wars, and how the scope of its very nature was played out. In some instances, no big deal, get back on this spaceship and let’s kick some ass. In other cases, it doesn’t exist at all.
To begin with, I gotta point my finger at Lando Calrissian. Yes, Lando was forced to help the Empire capture Leia, Han Solo and Chewbacca as bait for Luke Skywalker, which he immediately went along with. And yes, Lando sat idly by and watched as Han was frozen in Carbonite. But he revolted as soon as he realized that his deal wasn’t going to be as copacetic as expected, freeing Chewbacca and Leia and trying to apprehend Han’s frozen body back from Boba Fett and the Empire. Forgiveness, in this case, is swift. Chewbacca puts a chokehold on Lando, he gasps for air and struggles to tell them that they can still save Han, and all is forgiven in an instant. I realize that time was of the essence, and that Leia and Chewbacca were already out of options, but the trust they immediately placed into Lando’s hand always seems off-setting to me. After all was said and done, and Luke is ultimately rescued by the crew as they escape Cloud City, what was the atmosphere like on the Millennium Falcon? Lando knows he fucked up pretty good though, but he seems to want to right the wrongs he helped to institute, which is only possible if a whole lot of forgiveness and trust is bestowed on him on behalf of Leia, Chewbacca and Luke.
It brings to mind Plato’s Cave Allegory. So there’s this cave, and people live inside of it and only see shadows of what they think the real world is like. Then something happens to one of the cave dwellers and they’re rescued, and able to leave the cave. But along the way, the cave dweller realizes that his former reality is not what it seemed. It’s changing, becoming more defined, and since he’s now come into the light, he must confront a new reality. The light hurts his eyes, but he advances still, ultimately embracing a new reality, leaving ignorance behind. Not many people want to do this in their lives. I don’t even think Lando wanted to, but through a series of twists and turns, he’s forced to leave his cave (Cloud City), embrace a new reality (fighting the good fight) and change his ways (going from smuggler/pirate/greasy politician to General in the Rebel Alliance.) And in looking back on the events that transpired, Lando realizes his weaknesses and ultimately changes for the better. The cave rescuers in this case, Leia and Chewie, actually aid Lando’s transformation by being so benevolent with their forgiveness and trust. It’s a common theme in Star Wars. I think it’s a common theme in mythology actually. If only regular life could be so simple.
But there’s another form of forgiveness to address. Actually, the lack thereof. From both Darth Vader and the Emperor. There is no forgiveness in their moral universe. When someone fucks up, they might get another chance not to fuck up, but it’s also one step closer to their imminent death. It’s a weird paradox though (and I’m gonna stop after this) because if you think about the word ‘forgiveness’ and what it implies, then you automatically account for the existence of evil. The lack of forgiveness on the part of the dark side is a proponent of their evil, which could not exist if not for the principle of forgiveness. And so on and so forth.
Basically, it’s a balance created by the existence of both good and evil in the Star Wars universe. There’s this one group of people, trying to become better people, rescuing themselves and others from the cave of shadows, practicing noble acts such as forgiveness; and there’s this other group of people that are devolving away from humanity, destroying everything in their path, disavowing forgiveness, sucking whatever they can into the cave of shadows. Lando went down that dark cave, but came back out, and changed for the better, ultimately helping to destroy a major component of the Empire’s evil in the end. And if I wanna be really literal about it, I could also say that Lando pilots the Millennium Falcon into a “cave” in the Death Star, destroys the core, or “evil” of the cave, and pilots the ship out of the “cave” in just the nick of time, helping good to triumph in the universe.
Man, it’s amazing what Billy Dee Williams, a guy that once did ads for Colt 45 malt liquor, can teach you about the world of philosophy….