"Be Mindful of the Living
Ethics in Star Wars
ELIZABETH F. COOKE
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, good and evil looked remarkably similar to the good and evil we see in our world today. Of course, most of the species, planetary systems, and technological gadgets are foreign to us living in the twenty-first century, but the basic values of democracy, equality, and justice are the same. And the epic hero, the Jedi Knight, shares the same characteristics of the warrior hero in Western culture since the Homeric Age. He's a brave and skilled fighter devoted to a just cause, and, above all, a master over his mind and body. These common values at play in Star Wars allow the story to speak to us, despite such an unfamiliar backdrop.
But something else comes to light when the backdrop involves intergalactic travel, the power of the Force, Death Stars, the Dagobah System, Wookiees, Ewoks, and Gungans. We find that the Star Wars galaxy reveals a rich approach to environmental ethics—one quite relevant for issues in our own world. Environmental ethics is a branch of philosophy which uses ethical theories to solve very practical matters concerning animals, plants, and the environment as a whole. Now the environmental ethic at work in Star Wars is probably not readily apparent. After all, the Rebel Alliance concerns itself with only the humanist values of democracy and freedom. And the Jedi Knights, guardians of peace and justice, exemplars of all that is good, don't seem all that concerned for animals or the environment. What set of values then can account for restoring balance to the Force which somehow includes all the different creatures,