This is a question that I see coming up again and again with the advent of the latest installment of the Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens. I know it’s largely advertising, but what bugs me about this is that it entirely misses the point of the original series. The prophecy was about bringing balance to the Force, not eradicating followers of the Dark Side. In fact, it was the Jedi’s shortsightedness in forbidding knowledge of the Dark Side that led to the rise of the Sith. Jedi who wished to develop a deeper understanding by studying both sides of the Force were (no pun intended) forced to study in secret. In other words, the Sith were created by the Jedi’s desire to suppress knowledge.
The Dark Side, as has been shown by Luke’s use of it as well as in the (now defunct) expanded universe, is not inherently evil–just as the Light Side is not inherently good. They are simply opposites. For instance, anger and fear lead to the Dark Side, but anger at oppression is not a bad thing. Neither is fear. In the proper circumstances and proportions, they serve useful purposes. Uncontrolled and excessive anger can lead to massacring Tusken Raiders, but righteous anger motivates us to help and protect those less fortunate than ourselves. Excessive fear can lead to cowardice and stupidity, but appropriate fear teaches us to avoid unnecessary risks.
I’m also going to talk about Luke, but it is pure speculation based on what we already know of the expanded universe. There are no spoilers, I promise you.
Some think that Luke may have married, which has led to accusations that he was not a “true” Jedi–since the original Jedi order did not allow marriage. First of all, Luke is the last and only Jedi. If he did found a new Jedi order, he could have created different rules. Second, since he brought balance to the Force, he would have known that both sides of the Force were necessary for that balance; he could have taught the new Jedis how to balance their attachments with the knowledge of their eventual loss. Having attachments is not necessarily bad, though they do lead to suffering if you do not (in Yoda’s words), “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”
What leads to evil is turning (ie: succumbing) to the Dark Side–in other words, becoming a slave to your own desires and being unable to deal with the fact that you will eventually lose what you love. Everything is impermanent because it is the nature of everything to change. It doesn’t matter if you are a Jedi or a Sith, married or single, friend or foe, you will lose the ones you love. It’s the nature of the universe. Everyone experiences loss. But the difference is whether or not you accept that knowledge and use it to cherish the ones you love in the present, rather than seeking to keep that inevitability from happening.
Balance is about accepting both sides; so the question ‘Are you Light-Side or Dark-Side?’ makes no sense. Everyone contains both the Light and the Dark within themselves. The real question is, Can you walk the balance between them?