I bet Korra was a very lonely little kid. She learned she was the Avatar at a very young age, and got a lot of enjoyment out of bending. Other kids would either be really nice to her because she was the Avatar, or really mean to her because they were jealous. I bet after a while, she was glad to be out in the White Lotus compound, away from snide comments and giggles and fake friends. I bet she wondered if being the Avatar was really worth losing a childhood.
I’ve had this in my head for a few months. Glad I finally had the chance to work on it.
Remember Bryke’s recent post about those Brown University students who made an intense course on Avatar? Hi. We’re those students. We’ll be reading hundreds of pages a week and we want to share what we’re learning. First, though, you have to let us know you’re interested! The more followers this blog gets the more we’ll share so be sure to like and re-blog if you want to learn alongside with us during this course!
We are part of a secret society dedicated to restoring freedom to the world. We are the Red Lotus. We are what the White Lotus was meant to be, but after the hundred year war the White Lotus lost it's true purpose. It's members came out of hiding and openly served the Avatar. They became nothing but glorified bodyguards who serve corrupt nations, so a great man name Zhai Bao broke from the White Lotus and he began his own society.
We are excited to share the first piece in a series of collaborations between incredible artists and Brown University students taking a course on Avatar. This piece on the Earth Chakra was done by 1javier . If you are or know an artist interested in collaborating with us, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we look forward to working with you!
“Earth Chakra – Deals with Survival; Blocked by fear
As we all know, her parents considered her a weak little girl due to her blindness and they were afraid of her getting hurt. But when Toph ran away and got lost, she cried and was a scared little girl, the badger moles found her and she learned Earth bending. This moment, when she was kidnapped by the idiots her parents hired and placed in a metal coffin thing, was when she discovered metal bending, the epitome of her shedding away the scared little girl that her parents saw and fully becoming the awesome-ness that is Toph, the Greatest Earthbender in the world!” - Isa Javier
So, from Kya’s recognition of Zaheer and Zaheer’s strange knowledge of Air Temple Island, it’s easy to guess that he used to be an Air Acolyte before he went bad.
Considering how fast the OWL guard at Ghazan’s prison recognized him in his OWL disguise, it’s easy to imagine that he used to have ties to the White Lotus, too. The “Red Lotus” sounds like it’s defined in contrast to the White Lotus either way, but it makes a lot of sense that it could be a splinter group rather than a group that originally had nothing to do with the White Lotus.
We don’t know his motive for trying to kidnap Korra. Apparently, thirteen years of interrogation wasn’t enough to get any of the Red Lotus crew to crack, so they’re the only ones who know why they did it… or so we’ve been told, anyway.
What if the Red Lotus split off from the White Lotus right after Korra was found because Korra was found already bending three elements and the two factions disagreed about how to deal with that? It would explain how Zaheer and his crew knew where to find her.
The White Lotus represents spiritual perfection and mental purity. The Red Lotus represents the heart – love, passion, and compassion.
The path that Korra’s protectors chose for her could be characterized by the White Lotus principles taken to such an extreme that they became unbalanced. Korra was raised in an environment designed to foster spiritual perfection (by removing her from all attachment, to the point that she had no friends =( ) and mental purity (by keeping her isolated from the things of the world), purportedly to keep her safe from Zaheer and the Red Lotus.
But, what if the White Lotus had already taken steps in that direction before Zaheer broke off? What if the reason he broke off was because he rejected the White Lotus principles and believed the path of the Red Lotus was more appropriate for the Avatar – she couldn’t be removed from the world and forced to focus on her training, because she needed to learn to love, to experience passion and feel compassion for all living beings? In his mind, kidnapping her was justified because he believed everyone would be better off if the White Lotus weren’t allowed to raise her.
In the present, of course, it’s too late. That boat has sailed; Korra went through thirteen formative years of her life in White Lotus training and came out a psychological train wreck because of it. And, as far as Zaheer’s concerned, he can’t possibly know that she’s retained as much of her natural love and compassion as she has. In his mind, she must look like a corrupt Avatar, built on the wrong principles and permanently damaged in the process.
And so, he wants to destroy the Avatar, not because he wants to replace her or remove her, but because he sees her as irreparably broken. It does seem like he’s trying to kidnap rather than kill her, though, and if that’s the case, he could want to try to see whether that’s true or not before resorting to lethal means to resolve the issue.
The funny thing is that, on the surface, at least, if Korra were presented with those two sets of principles (rather than “that group that locked me up for 13 years” and “that group whose kidnap attempt forced that other group to lock me up for 13 years”), she’d choose Red in a second. And, in the end, if this theory is on point at all, I expect that she’ll incorporate some of what the Red Lotus want into her own vision of what the world should be. Maybe she’ll even disband the White Lotus herself… or, at least, the militarized parts of it that seem to have cropped up since the end of the Hundred Year War. That’s certainly the sort of thing I’d love to see as an outcome to this conflict!