I have a little over a week left of summer vacation, so I have been spending it catching up on many of my nerdy obsessions: video games, books, etc. One of the first things on my to-do list was watch The Legend of Korra, the new series based on Avatar the Last Airbender.
Which inevitably spurred an ATLA revival, and I began watching all the seasons of the original show for the millionth time (I have them on DVD.)
I love Avatar for many many reasons, but one of them was particularly revealed to me tonight as I watched the episode from season 2 entitled “The Tales of Ba Sing Se.” In this episode, each of the characters has their own mini adventure in the great city of Ba Sing Se and one particular character’s story always stands out to me above the rest: Uncle Iroh.
Iroh is an extremely interesting and inspiring character. He is the brother of the dreaded villain, Fire Lord Ozai, and ex-general of the Fire Nation army. A master firebender known as the “Dragon of the West.” But unlike his ambitious and evil brother, Iroh is filled with wisdom and compassion and undying love for his nephew, Zuko, who is constantly hurt and punished by his father. His acts of love for Zuko and for all of mankind (as well as his cheesy but good-hearted jokes) make him one of the most loveable characters in the series.
Not to mention the fact that he’s a freaking INCREDIBLE firebender and destroys all who threaten him and his family.
In this particular episode, Iroh is making his way to a secluded spot outside the city. One his journey there, he has several encounters with different people along the way. While many of us (including myself) normally choose to ignore and avoid people we encounter in our daily lives, he seeks to brighten their day however he can and with complete sincerity. He stops what he is doing and plays a song for a crying child in the street to make him smile. He stops to share a laugh and offer wisdom to some mischievous children playing in the streets. And the one that was the most impressive to me was his encounter with a thief. A man approaches Iroh with a knife demanding money. Iroh immediately corrects the man’s fighting stance, teaching him how to properly stand his ground against enemies, and promptly tells the thief, “You don’t seem the criminal type.” The thief confesses that he is merely confused, and Iroh immediately invites the man to sit with him for tea. He takes time out of his day, stops his plans to sit down with a petty thief and hear about what his hopes and dreams are. The thief expresses his gratitude saying, “No one’s ever believed in me before.”
All of these encounters remind me of things I think Jesus would have done if he had lived in Ba Sing Se, and things I wish I could say I made an effort to do every day.
Jesus was very much like Uncle Iroh I think. Jesus sought out people who had evident needs and met them. He reached out a helping hand when many would just keep walking. This, friends, is how we as Christians are supposed to be. What a difference I could make if I stopped worrying so much about MY schedule, MY needs, MY desires and tried to spend my days brightening the days of people around me. We should be the Uncle Irohs of this world, spreading kindness and compassion in a world of selfishness.
reminds me of the fall of man and our utter hopelessness apart from God.
until I ran over a cat. :(