Darth Vader: Could I be that Evil?

An Imaginary Interview with Mr. Vader on Erin Burnett’s Show “Outfront” on CNN

This interview was performed at a New Church Brunch somewhere in America…

ERIN BURNETT: Welcome to “Outfront”! I’m Erin Burnett and this is CNN. The new Star Wars movie has been breaking records since it came out late last year. So today I asked Darth Vader to come into the studio for an exclusive CNN interview with arguably the most sinister screen character of all time. Of course, as most of you know, Darth Vader lived a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. However, as with other powerful Jedi Knights of his day, he learned how to return after death and interact with the living. He’s promised to talk about his evolution into an evil Dark Lord, his struggle with his relationship with his son, and of course the drama surrounding his death on screen. Let’s go Outfront with Darth Vader!

ERIN BURNETT: Thanks so much Mr. Vader for sitting down with me today. So you’re a scary guy, right? People even say you’re the epitome of evil. But knowing a bit about your early life as a regular human being, they also wonder “Could I be that evil?” I know you’ve said it was a process getting to this point. Tell me a bit about how you became the epitome of evil.

DARTH VADER: I actually started off as Anakin Skywalker, a good little kid living on a remote planet in my galaxy. As a child I showed unusual abilities, especially in fixing things and flying in pod races. When some good Jedi Knights discovered me, they took me away from my mother so I could be trained in the ways of the Force, as a Jedi Knight. But I always got the impression from the Jedis that they expected me to be trouble, even though they also believed I was the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy about the one who would restore balance to the Force. They seemed to believe that something would go wrong because of my fear.

ERIN BURNETT: Did you think your fear was a problem?

DARTH VADER: Not really. Like any kid, I was afraid that my mother would die or I’d never see her again. At the time, my biggest problem was feeling like my Master Obi-Wan Kenobi was holding me back.

ERIN BURNETT: Not only did you have fears of abandonment, but you were also angry that they didn’t realize how talented you really were at working with the Force?

DARTH VADER: Exactly! I really didn’t enjoy training with Obi-Wan Kenobi, even though we were friends and he was my father-figure. Yeah, they recognised me as one of most powerful Jedi Knights, but I was still impatient to be fully out on my own as a Jedi Knight.

ERIN BURNETT: You say you were fearful, angry and impatient. So did you ever become a fully-fledged Jedi Knight? With all those negative feelings going on?

DARTH VADER: Technically, no. What happened was that I fell in love with Padme, one of the senators. They had this rule that Jedi’s couldn’t be in a committed relationship, but we secretly got married anyway. Then she got pregnant, and I started having terrifying premonitions that she would die in childbirth. But then the Sith Lord Darth Sidious –

ERIN BURNETT: Wait – what’s a Sith Lord?

DARTH VADER: Sith Lords use the Dark Side of the Force, and can become more powerful than the good Jedis, who use the Light Side. There is always a Sith Dark Lord, and his student or assistant.

ERIN BURNETT: Thanks for clarifying that! So this Sith Lord told you something about your fears about your wife dying?

DARTH VADER: Yes. He told me that I could use the Dark Side of the Force to prevent her death. I was very conflicted about turning to the Dark Side, but I loved her and I didn’t want to lose her. So rather impulsively I decided to become a Sith student, an agent of evil. The Dark Lord renamed me Darth Vader and started training me.

ERIN BURNETT: Did it feel any different, training to use the Dark Side of the Force?

DARTH VADER: I felt more free to be the powerful knight I wanted to be. It was so much easier to use the power of my emotions when I was relying on anger and revenge. I could still feel the stirrings of the Light Side, so there was some conflict, but not like when I was feeling held back from being my true self.

ERIN BURNETT: What you’re saying reminds me of the Swedenborgian concept of a “hellish self” and a “heavenly self.” The idea is that you can move from identifying with influences in your life that come from what some people call “hell”, to identifying with the influences from “heaven” or a Divine source. So what was your true self at the time, when you started training as a Sith?

DARTH VADER: Good question! I guess your “true self” is the self you are currently running with, even though there might be some pull toward an opposite self. From what I could see, all the Jedi Knights felt a pull toward the emotions of the Dark Side, but they were trained to ignore them and choose the deeper emotions to guide them.

ERIN BURNETT: So you were freely choosing to run with the Dark Side self. How did that work out in your marriage?

DARTH VADER: Terribly! When I told Padme how I’d joined the Dark Side for her, and that we could rule the Galaxy together as husband and wife, she rejected me. She said I had changed, and she couldn’t be with me anymore. It broke my heart, and I felt angry and betrayed. Later I heard that she had actually died brokenhearted in childbirth, giving birth to our twin son and daughter.

ERIN BURNETT: That must have been hard for you, since you’d been promised you could save her life if you went to the Dark Side.

DARTH VADER: It was very hard. But my anger fueled my efforts in trying to eradicate the Jedi Order. Darth Sidious had told me the Jedi had turned against the galactic Republic, so I followed his orders to kill all of them. In the end I fought Obi-Wan Kenobi. I got severely wounded and almost burnt to death. Obi-Wan left me to die, filled with anger and hatred. But meanwhile Darth Sidious had established himself as the Emperor, and had me surgically encased in black armor that kept me alive. I became the frightening Darth Vader, the one you see before you right now.

ERIN BURNETT: You certainly are a frightening person. I see such symbolism in the way you were encased in armor, like your choices to go with your personal limitations made you less human and even more limited and disconnected from people. Maybe even controlled you. People must have been terrified of you, even though you started down that path out of love for your wife. And out of fear.

DARTH VADER: They were terrified. I was the second most powerful being in the Galaxy, drawing from the Dark Side of the Force. My mission was to hunt and destroy all the Jedis who had escaped, and the Rebel Alliance who were opposing the new Empire.

ERIN BURNETT: So that was how you changed from being an innocent child into a conflicted but basically evil Sith Lord. Quite amazing. I’m pretty sure everyone has some anger and fear and hate in their life at some point, and worse even. We’re all limited when it comes to being loving and honest and kind. It sounds like anyone could make a few mistakes, start indulging those negative emotions, and end up, well maybe not as evil as you, but definitely more evil than they started.

DARTH VADER: Definitely more evil than they started. For me, it was listening to those who told me I could get what I wanted by using my anger and hatred. Even though other voices were trying to get me to access my deeper, good emotions and knowledge. I guess that could happen to anyone. It’s just a matter of choice, driven by emotions.

ERIN BURNETT: But eventually you had to deal with your relationship with your son, right? You’d never met him, but you knew he had to be out there somewhere?

DARTH VADER: Yes. After about twenty years of building the Empire and establishing our reign of terror, the Emperor and I both became aware of a change in the Force. It turned out to be my son Luke Skywalker, training secretly as a Jedi Knight. The Emperor perceived Luke as a threat, but I saw an opportunity to rule the Empire with my son.

ERIN BURNETT: So you played along with the Emperor’s fears about Luke, but you were actually hoping to get rid of the Emperor and rule your Galaxy with your son? And twenty years before that you wanted to get rid of him and rule with your wife. What’s that about?

DARTH VADER: Well it was all twisted up by the Dark Side, but I was actually motivated by the love I felt for those closest to me: my wife and then my son. I wanted them to have the pleasure I felt in being in control of the Galaxy. As I said, it was twisted love, but it was still love.

ERIN BURNETT: Fascinating! It all looked so evil, but there was actually goodness at a deeper level that you could access, even if not in a totally healthy way. Could the Emperor access deeper, better emotions within himself?

DARTH VADER: He never showed any signs of anything like that. But I suppose that at some time, probably long before I met him, he struggled with the Light Side and the Dark Side, like everyone does. He just consistently chose the Dark Side of the Force until the deeper, truer emotions died off. Or became inaccessible.

ERIN BURNETT: So there you were, hoping to gain control of the Galaxy with your son by your side.

DARTH VADER: Yes. I got fairly close at one point. When Luke destroyed the Death Star, the space station we were building, I escaped but became obsessed with finding Luke. When I found him we fought, and I cut off Luke’s hand. Rather than kill him, I tried to convince Luke to come over to the Dark Side. He was surprised, even shocked, when I told Luke that I was his father. He didn’t like my offer to rule the galaxy together as father and son. Luke miraculously escaped rather than join the Dark Side with me. But I still hoped it could happen.

ERIN BURNETT: I can see how the Dark Side of the Force was warping your thinking. You wanted a relationship with your son, which is great! But your idea of quality time was a little off. So how did your hopes for a working relationship with your son work out for you?

DARTH VADER: The Emperor and I both wanted to get Luke to the Dark Side, each for our own purposes. So we waited for him to come to us on the second Death Star. Luke sought me out, appealing to what he saw as good still within me. I’d done things like extending some forgiveness to the Death Star workers who had fallen behind schedule. He was young and idealistic, but not quite persuasive enough.

ERIN BURNETT: So, to keep up with the Swedenborgian terminology here, you could say that you had influences towards good as well as influences towards evil operating in your life. Luke was the “angel voice” reminding you of the goodness inside you, and the Emperor was the “devil voice” that encouraged you and Luke to give energy to your negative emotions.

DARTH VADER: Yes, that sounds right. Despite my conflicted feelings, I brought Luke before the Emperor. When we fought, Luke overpowered me. He could have killed me then and there! But instead he threw away his lightsaber rather than follow the Emperor’s command to kill me and become a powerful Sith Lord. The Emperor became angry and started torturing Luke. I couldn’t stand to see my son, who loved me enough to spare my life, being destroyed by the Emperor. It was then I realized the huge mistake I had made all these years. I took on the Emperor, sacrificing my life, but my revulsion at the evil I’d devoted my life to gave me the strength to destroy the Emperor.

ERIN BURNETT: What a turnaround! You no longer identified with the rage and cruelty in the lifestyle you’d been living, and you pushed it away. Literally in the case of the Emperor.

DARTH VADER: Saving Luke’s life was a moment of redemption for me. Probably my redemption from evil was more dramatic for me than for most people. I no longer wanted my identity as Darth Vader, the evil Sith Lord. I wanted to be the Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker, Luke’s father. I was able to connect with my son for a moment, and then I died.

ERIN BURNETT: It was a very poignant moment of connection there, at the end of your life. Looking back, what would you have done differently in your life, if you’d had more insight into what was really going on in your mind and heart?

DARTH VADER: As I said, in my last moments of redemption from the power of the Dark Side, I was motivated by love for my son, and my son’s love for me in sparing my life. With hindsight, I can see that I had loved my son all along, but with a twisted love that wanted to have Luke join me as a Sith Lord. When I no longer identified with the Dark Side, but operated from the shreds of good and love left within me, I could see my mistake in following my anger and fear into the Dark Side.

ERIN BURNETT: How do you think you would have avoided following your anger and fear into the Dark Side of the Force?

DARTH VADER: I would have recognised that outside forces were influencing me to focus on my anger, fear, hatred and suffering, just as I saw the Emperor trying to do with Luke. I wish that I could have resisted them by choosing to deal with my suffering some other way, using the influence of the Light side of the Force. If I’d done that, I could have had a positive, loving relationship with my son all along, sharing the Light side of the Force.

ERIN BURNETT: No doubt all of us could make better choices if we could stay more aware of the forces outside of ourselves that are influencing us to focus on our anger and suffering. Thanks for that insight. And thanks Mr. Vader for coming Outfront with us and helping us to understand ourselves and our choices a little better. May the Force be with you!

by Ros Taylor

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