I read a rather over-the-top article recently that posits the notion of how Star Wars: The Last Jedi will render Return of the Jedi "meaningless," though the article never adequately explaining how it will do so. There are a jumble of thoughts about how The Force Awakens was just a remixed A New Hope (not untrue), and how the new trilogy is just redoing the original trilogy (an assertion I find odd, since we haven't seen 66% of the new trilogy yet).
Regardless, I will let one particular section of the article speak for itself:
Luke’s moral and spiritual triumph on the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance’s military victory at Endor, and even Lucas’ awesome special edition scenes of people dancing and shooting off fireworks across the galaxy were pointless. The “Star Wars” universe slipped right back into tyranny and the resolution of the original trilogy was as fleeting as Hayden Christensen’s acting career. If this movie is what its title implies, then Luke might just as well have gotten a job selling power converters at Tosche Station.
It is unclear what the author expects from a continuation of the Star Wars saga. Granted, Force Awakens didn't have to be such a carbon copy of A New Hope. There could have been new dangers revealed, rather than a Death Star on steroids and a Darth Vader wannabe. The thing is, this is Star Wars. We're in the same universe (well, galaxy) as the original trilogy, so if there's going to be a new movie, there's going to be a renewed conflict within said universe. Evil never truly dies, it's just kept at bay for a time.
This put me in mind of our own galaxy, and our own life right here on Earth. If we look at things historically, and through a prism of conflict, then all victories are temporary. And, sometimes, they sew the seeds of the next struggle. The arc of humanity's relatively brief era on this planet has, for the most part, been a positive one, I think. We have, when all's said and done, bettered ourselves. Not, however, without regression.
Perhaps this is why I like the story of Cloud Atlas so much? It transpires over several hundred years of human history. Some of the events are lighter than others. Some are pretty heavy. The one constant is that humanity will continually face highs and lows (almost always self-inflicted). Just as there will be periods of enlightenment, so to will follow periods of darkness. I'm not sure, if history is any guide, there is a way to break out of this cycle (though we should never stop trying). The best we can hope for is to live during a period of enlightenment.
In the meantime, I'm still looking forward to The Last Jedi.