• Joe Pace

Favorite Fictional Characters, #83: Yoda


"Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Suffering leads to Dagobah."

The wizened little green freakshow in the swamp. The syntax-scrambling zen puppet (and yes, puppet > CGI). The tiny twirling lightsaber maestro. The ancient Jedi Grand Master, font of wisdom, trainer of younglings, surly, snappish, obscenely strong in the Force. Everybody loves Yoda. Along with other Star Wars characters, he became iconic in pop culture. Hey, when Weird Al Yankovic features you in a song and they make you into a Magic 8 Ball, you've arrived. Yoda was, and is, the man. Or, rather, the whatever-he-is.

Here's the thing, though - Yoda was wrong about just about everything. He didn't sense Palpatine was a Sith Lord. He tried to keep Anakin at arm's length rather than connect with and possibly mentor the boy who would become Vader. His insight failed during the Clone Wars, as Palpatine outplayed him on the galactic chessboard. So concerned about ancient tradition and hidebound by Jedi ritual, Yoda (and Windu, and many of the other Council members) dropped the ball on the resurgence of the Sith, to the woe of countless billions. His final failure was the attempt to mold Luke into an old-style Jedi, purged of attachments and passion.

All of that said, many of his nuggets of wisdom remain with us, even now that he is a luminous being, having left his crude green matter behind. Do, or do not. There is no try.

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