In Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon flipped the die on Tatooine using the Force. Isn't this deceit? By doing so, did Qui-Gon follow the Dark Side?
Very few people would argue that it is wrong to cheat in order to free a slave. Or to put it differently, almost everyone would agree that slavery is so appallingly wrong that cheating in a game of chance (especially against a slave owner) is all but harmless in comparison.
Watto was cheating too:
Watto used a chance cube he had with him to gamble with Qui-Gon Jinn on the outcome of the Boonta Eve Classic. After refusing to bet both Anakin Skywalker and his mother Shmi against Anakin Skywalker's Podracer, he offered to roll his chance cube to decide which slave would be wagered: blue for the boy, red for his mother. Qui-Gon Jinn used telekinesis to influence the fall of the chance cube to ensure that Anakin's freedom would be at stake. As Watto had weighted the die to land on red, and had five red spaces and one blue, to ensure winning such random tosses, Jinn's trick took him quite by surprise.
- Wookieepedia, citing the novelization of the film
According to the script, the chance cube that Watto rolled with Qui-Gon was fixed to land on red. That's why he was so mad that Qui-Gon tampered with it to land on blue.
Losing Anakin wouldn't materially hurt Watto much, but if Watto kept Anakin, it could hurt the galaxy, the Jedi, and everyone else (obviously, no one knew Anakin would turn out to be the worst thing ever).
Although the Jedi hold the virtue of honesty in great esteem, they are allowed to bend the truth, cheat, and even lie if it serves the greater good and wasn't motivated by personal gain:
Honesty was the first responsibility that aspiring Jedi were taught. Jedi were permitted to stretch the truth if the situation required it of them, however this was to be done as sparingly as possible. An honest Jedi was always truthful with himself, his Master, and the Council.
I can't imagine many people arguing that Obi Wan was a bad Jedi based solely on the act that he said "These aren't the droids you're looking for" when the droids in question were indeed exactly the ones the stormtroopers were looking for. Qui-Gon's situation isn't much different.
- The Jedi are obliged to protect the weak from oppression.
Defend The Weak
Similarly, a Jedi was expected to defend the weak from those who oppressed them, ranging from small-scale suffering at the hands of an individual to large-scale enslavement of entire species.
This would certainly seem to apply to Qui-Gon trying to free a child from slavery.
In light of all of the above, we can say with some confidence that Qui-Gon didn't do anything wrong:
He was dealing with a slave owner, trying to free a slave
The slave owner was trying to cheat him to keep said slave
He was bound by oath to protect the weak from oppression, which presumably included slaves
The net gain to Anakin, the Jedi Order, and the galaxy was far greater than the net loss to Watto
He was under no obligation to be honest/fair, especially with an immoral, cheating slave owner who wasn't being honest/fair with him
His motives were good, not selfish; his methods were proportionate to those of his adversary, and measured; his goal was admirable, not malicious; the outcome was just, not unjust (ignoring the fact that Anakin became a monster decades later, which no one foresaw). None of this smacks of the Dark Side - quite the opposite.
Normally, using the Force to make dice roll in one's own favor would be dishonest and against Jedi teachings.
However Qui-Gon in this situation was trying to free a human being from slavery, something I rather doubt would lead him down to the Dark Side.
To illustrate what I mean, normally Jedi seek to avoid taking a life but will sometimes kill to defend the safety and freedom of others as well as their own.
Qui Gon was not really an exemplar of the Jedi Order, he went against their wishes numerous times, and by all accounts he was a bit of a maverick and tended to not follow the rules to the letter.
Besides, he influenced a game of chance in which the outcomes were to decide which of the two slaves he would be freeing, not whether or not they were going to be freed, that depended on the race. Sure he benefited from the outcome, but had Anikin lost the race it would not have mattered, as he would have freed neither of them.
Had the dice roll been for whether he won or lost the wager between the slaves and the pod, or if he used the force to influence the outcome of the race, that would have been much more deceitful.
Plus, I was always under the impression Watto was using a weighted die, so perhaps Qui Gon knew this and was simply redistributing the odds that were already stacked against him.
The Light and Dark sides of the Force are determined by the users emotions, not by their actions or the result of their actions.
Was he using anger, greed, jealousy or fear to give him the power to move the dice? No, he was calm and using the Force to free someone. So, no danger of slipping into the Dark side from this.
Which side you are using is not the result of a moral decision. The problem with using the Dark side isn't your goals, but rather the fact that it reinforces negative emotions, which ends up changing yor goals.
No, by altering the roll of the cube, he did not use dark side. Having said that, even if it's a moral question; Qui Gonn was a grey jedi, anyway; a factor (amongst his own choice) that he was not on the jedi council.
He believed what he was doing was because of the force. That they were led there to find the boy by the force.
Besides, one could argue that keeping slaves is not right, and that freeing slaves is a greater good - had he freed Shimi, she would not have been able to do much. However, having freed anakin, there was more of a chance later she could be freed, which, as we know eventually happened.
The purpose for doing something is more of a determinant of its evil/good nature than the act itself.
For example, rather effectively running a republic to victory in a war against some pretty bad dudes can actually be a pretty evil thing if the reason you do it is as a ruse to implement a plan to commit genocide on a rival group and take over that republic and make it into an empire.
Likewise, killing people can be inherently good if you're doing it to protect the lives of the innocent.
Both of those examples are in the star wars world...but parallels exist in ours too. Someone that kills someone that was attempting to murder innocents is hailed as a hero, not a villain for having killed. It was the reason for the action that determined the evil/good nature of it.
There is nothing in the light side of the force that prohibits deceit. On the contrary, deceit and trickery are the light side's bread and butter. In the Death Star, Obi-wan projected sounds to trick the stormtroopers into leaving their post. In the battle with Vader at Cloud city, Luke uses a force jump in an effort to trick Vader into thinking Luke was still in the Carbonite machine. In many of the video games where you play a Jedi, a lightside skill is to turn invisible -- allowing you to sneak up on enemies and get the drop on them.
A dark sider isn't deceitful. They don't need to resort to trickery. Someone using the dark side wouldn't have used the force to move the dice. They would have straight up murdered Watto and taken whatever they wanted.
Using trickery and deceit is what separates the light side from the dark. The dark side is big, showy, loud, bombastic, and direct. Think force lightning, force chokes, throwing debris across the room. The light side is subtle. Think making a dice roll one extra time, convincing people that these aren't the right droids, turning into a ghost.
Factors that help determine if something is Darkside or Lightside are mainly:
- Motivation - Are you using the force for yourself - or - to help others
- Emotion - Are you being driven by fear, hatred, anger - or - are you level headed and calm
- Directness - Are you hurling lightning - or - are you tricking people? Are you using a lightsaber to kill everyone in your path - or - do you chop off a guy's arm to show the whole room not to mess with you, thereby ensuring you don't need to kill everyone in your path? Do you force choke an enemy to death - or - do you use a mind trick to send enemies on their way? tl;dr, are you using the force for violence as a first resort - or - are you using the force to avoid violence?