Yoda & The Emperor Are More Alike Than You Think
Yup, you read that correctly. Yoda and Emperor Palpatine really are more alike than you think. Both are:
Old, wise, and use a cane
Mentors, but value personal growth
Strategic and warriors
Powerful, but hide their power
In control of their emotions
Sure, there are differences (one is tall, one is green with big ears, etc.), but they have more in common than we assume. However, I believe two significant attributes separate Yoda from the Emperor and good from evil. They are compassion and empathy.
If you're compassionate then you believe everyone matters. Those who are empathetic can acknowledge the reality of others. Notice a similarity between how I defined compassion and empathy... both attributes are concerned with other people. Star Wars fans can probably already name examples in which these differences are noticeable between Yoda and Palpatine.
Notice the Difference
Though the Jedi tried to avoid emotional attachment, I don't think they were successful. Yoda cared for Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and others. Viewers can even hear the fondness in Yoda's voice when he addresses the "younglings" in Episode II. He's also able to sense what other people are thinking and feeling. Yoda is concerned with justice and that which is good. He was willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of others.
On the other hand, Emperor Palpatine isn't concerned about anyone except for himself. His purpose for gaining control of the galaxy had absolutely zero to do with anyone but himself. He manufactured a fatherly mentoring relationship with Anakin in order to manipulate him into being his student. He had no sadness over the deaths of his own teacher, or students like Darth Maul and Darth Tyranus. There was never a second thought about those killed in his wars. He had no concern for the people who were brutalized under his leadership. He was willing to sacrifice others for his own benefit.
Ultimately, the Emperor's indifference toward others became the catalyst for his death. His inability to be compassionate and empathetic stopped him from seeing past himself. It was this flaw that blinded him to the transformation that occurred in Darth Vader before being thrown into the Death Star's reactor. Living with or without compassion and empathy isn't just the difference between good and evil... it draws the line between loving God and people or sabotaging yourself.
How to Live With Compassion and Empathy
If there was ever anyone who was an example of how to live with compassion and empathy, it was Jesus. He came to live life with us, was called Immanuel (God with us), die for us, rise and ascend for us, and will return for us. John writes, "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 Jn. 2:2). Literally, Jesus was willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of others. While it's impossible for us to live exactly the kind of life that Jesus did, he, Paul, and others give some encouragement on how to do so:
"Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
"Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment... Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
~Rom. 12:3, 17-18
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others"
"But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?"
"All of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."
~1 Pt. 3:8-9
Compassion and empathy... it's the difference between good and evil or the light side and dark side. Choose wisely, you must...