This is the Way

Ever since The Phantom Menace arrived in theaters in 1999, Star Wars fans have been in a love/hate relationship with the galaxy far, far away. But there is one recent Star Wars production that has united critics and fans alike: Disney+’s The Mandalorian. The series revolves around a Mandalorian bounty hunter, known to the characters within the show simply as “Mando.” (Spoilers ahead!) Mando is a fierce and highly-skilled warrior, and nothing prevents him from completing his bounties:

 

Well, almost nothing. As an adherent to the Mandalorian way, Mando is no stranger to strict guidelines. And, as a bounty hunter in the Star Wars universe, he lives by two rules: complete the job and don’t ask questions. But everything changes once Mando discovers the target of a very lucrative job: “the Child,” or as fans affectionately call him, Baby Yoda. When the bounty hunter droid, IG-11, is about to kill the Child, Mando blasts the droid instead. Mando delivers Baby Yoda to “the Client” and receives his reward, but he breaks bounty hunter guild code by asking the Client what would be done with the Child. Later, when Mando is about to leave to pursue a new bounty, he has a change of heart and returns to save Baby Yoda. The remainder of the season centers around Mando protecting the Child.

This is the Way
Mandalorians pride themselves in their religion. Mando states many times throughout the season that he can never remove his helmet in front of another living thing, else he can never put it back on, nor return to the Mandalorian way. Bounty hunters similarly have strict guidelines. As mentioned above, they must complete their tasks and not ask questions.

Yet, Mando breaks both bounty hunter guidelines. Why? Why does he prevent IG-11 from killing Baby Yoda? Why does he save the Child from the Client when he knows that this will ruin his reputation and standing within the bounty hunter guild? The show offers us clues.

Throughout the season, Mando has flashbacks of his childhood. There was an attack on his home by battle droids and he was placed in a safe shelter by his parents, who were then killed in the attack. Mando’s hiding place was revealed, and as he was about to be blasted by a battle droid, he was rescued by the Mandalorians, who took him in and introduced him to their way of life. This life-altering event served as the impetus for Mando’s rescue of Baby Yoda.

So why did Mando defy his bounty hunter guild? Compassion. Empathy. Honor. In spite of the consequences for his actions, Mando knew that killing Baby Yoda was wrong. He could not leave the Child to the whims of the Client. So, Mando breaks his code, knowing this action would mar his reputation and could make him a target for the rest of his life. But Mando knows that there are rules that supersede the rules of his people and profession—moral rules.

A Law above the Law
Let’s compare this to the real world. Aren’t there times that we know, deep down, that the “rules” are wrong—really wrong? Consider the Holocaust. We recognize this as one of the worst tragedies in human history. Yet all of the atrocities that the Nazi soldiers committed were legal. And when the captured Nazi soldiers were tried for their crimes, many offered the defense that they were just following orders. But could that ever excuse the level of evil that these people committed—the wholesale massacre of thousands of people, including young children?

Someone could argue that we “know” things are right or wrong simply because we are conditioned to think that a thing is right or wrong. This might be true to a degree, but it still doesn’t tell us anything about how we should live or behave. Furthermore, suppose someone is conditioned to murder, does that somehow make it right?

Some things can be legally permissible, yet morally reprehensible. Not so long ago, slavery was legal in the United States. Even after it was abolished, African Americans were still treated as second-class citizens—legally—for many more years. Still today, thousands of unborn children are slaughtered annually through abortion, which is also legal.

This does not apply only to government, however, but also to cultural norms. Just because society deems an action or behavior as acceptable, that does not make it right. The same goes for beliefs that are considered unfashionable and outdated. Traditional values are not wrong simply because they are not trendy. Like government, society is not the final arbiter of morality.

Just as Mando knew it was wrong to abandon Baby Yoda to the devices of the Client, there are things that we inherently know are always wrong, such as murder and rape. This is evidence of a higher law that is outside and beyond us—a moral law provided by an ultimate Lawgiver.

Conclusion
Mando could have just followed orders. He could have complied with the bounty hunter code and saved himself a lot of trouble. But he knew better. Mando had to save the Child. That was the true Way, one that supersedes any other law or code in the galaxy.

What about us? What is our final authority—the government, culture, our families, ourselves? Or is there a law that stands outside and above all things? Any time we recognize that the “rules” are wrong, it is also an acknowledgement that there are higher rules that override all human laws. We know this law because it is written on our hearts by the great moral Lawgiver (Romans 2). And it is to this Way, this Law—an ultimate moral law—that we are all bound, even if it conflicts with our society, our friends, our profession, our family, or our very selves.

This is the Way.

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