The ruins of Jedha glimpsed in the latest Rogue One trailer triggered a train of thought that led me to thinking about the origins of the Jedi and Sith and led me to the conclusion that it is time to diverge from the traditional approach to ancient Star Wars storytelling. Traditionally in various permutations the Sith arose after the Jedi as the result of a practitioner of the light falling to the dark. We have been there and done that and if you think about it the idea of the Jedi rising in response to the Sith provides a much more interesting narrative.
The dark side has always felt wild, savage, very much a Hobbesian state of nature. The dark side is also the quicker and easier path. Couple these two ideas and it seems inescapable that the first Force-user would have been someone accidentally tapping into the dark side and discovering access to the Force. This person (let’s call him Sith Prime) gaining powers and abilities that would have seemed godlike would have given him a serious advantage over peers and rivals, likely leading to him gaining or seizing power and attracting those to his banner.
Gaining power inevitably leads to attempts to holding power which would cause Sith Prime to institute some structure and regulate whom they share their knowledge and powers with. Instituting ritual and rules would lead to the development of the Sith Order.
The resulting reign of darkness would destabilize the natural balance of the Force in the galaxy, resulting in the necessary rise of a light-side rival movement (in this case, the first Jedi). The Jedi, rejecting both the acts and philosophy of Sith Prime, would be slow to develop as they sought alternative ways to tap into the powers of the Force, slowly but surely through trial and error developing the practices and philosophies that underlie the Jedi code. It would necessarily take the Jedi time to develop their use of the Force, likely too slow to stop Sith Prime’s rise to power or perhaps more likely not developing until he has already risen to power and his predations become severe.
The Jedi seek control and peace within and without; they seek to tame the state of nature and prevent the domination and pain that the primacy of the dark side spreads. They seek to bring balance to the Force.
From a storytelling perspective this makes much more sense than the traditional formulation. Instead of a tragic fall as a Jedi turns dark, we have a heroic story as someone or a group of someones rise up to face evil, thus providing us with two great tales, the rise of Sith Prime and the rise of the Jedi.
The Jedi could rise either inside or outside of Sith Prime’s shadow. They could be started by those suffering from Sith Prime’s rule or from the betrayal of one of Prime’s dark acolytes who has seen the light.
No matter how the story is told, when we get around to telling the new canon origins of the Sith and Jedi, the Sith should come first.