what is the point of saving the earth when you can't save yourself

anonymous asked:

I can't help but think of many shows and anime I've watched where a main hero has to save the world. The ones that I remember the best? the ones where the hero sacrifices something to save the world. Sometimes you have sacrifice your values when your a leader, for the group. War is hard and usually you don't escape unscathed. Also when they found Gyatso's body, he was in an area filled with fire nation corpses. He fought until his death, killing the solders. Does that lessen who he was? No.

Aang definitely should have had to sacrifice something in order to defeat the Firelord. Head writer Aaron Ehasz tried to sneak some Aang development past Bryke in the Season 2 ending, where Aang had to let Katara go in order to enter the Avatar State. But then in Season 3, especially the back half where everything was winding to a close, Aang was still extremely attached to Katara to the point of assuming consent and literally not knowing illusion from reality.

These are all completely natural flaws for a twelve-year-old boy to have. The problem isn’t Aang himself so much as how his flaws and beliefs are all validated at the end of the show. And I wouldn’t have had Aang sacrifice his beliefs so much as adapt his beliefs the way others do throughout Avatar.

Why Zuko’s belief system holds up better than Aang’s:

“That’s cute. But this isn’t Air Temple preschool; it’s the real world.” 

Much has been made of Zuko deriding Air Nomad philosophy in “The Southern Raiders” with this and his “guru goody-goody” line, especially when he himself is the biggest beneficiary of Aang’s philosophy of forgiveness. And let’s be honest: Zuko was being an asshole. But … just how wrong was he about how Aang is voicing his beliefs?

This isn’t Air Temple preschool.

Let’s do a quick recap of Aang’s stated beliefs throughout the show:

Ying: How can we abandon hope? It’s all we have.
Aang: I don’t know. The monks used to say that hope is a distraction. So maybe we need to abandon it. 

Katara: Why do they have all these poor people blocked off in one part of the city?
Aang: This is why I never came here before. I always heard it was so different from the way the monks taught us to live.

Aang: As the monks used to say, sometimes the shadows of the past can be felt by the present.

Aang: The monks used to say that revenge is like a two-headed rat-viper. While you watch your enemy go down, you’re being poisoned yourself.

Aang: Avatar Yangchen, the monks always taught me that all life is sacred. Even the life of the tiniest spider-fly caught in its own web.
Yangchen: Yes, all life is sacred.
Aang: I know, I’m even a vegetarian. I’ve always tried to solve my problems by being quick or clever, and I’ve only had to use violence for necessary defense, and I’ve certainly never used it to take a life.
Yangchen: Avatar Aang, I know that you are a gentle spirit, and the monks have taught you well. But this isn’t about you, this is about the world.
Aang: But the monks taught me that I had to detach myself from the world so my spirit could be free.

As a rule, Aang states his ideals in terms of generic aphorisms that were passed down from the monks that raised him. The fact that these truisms—including the one he used in the Southern Raiders—are direct sayings means they have traveled from the monks to Aang, uncontested and unchallenged. Throughout the show, Aang never has to question or analyze those ideals between hearing them and acting upon them. Every time we hear him speak of the monks, Aang repeats their beliefs as if they are immovable facts; and throughout all the evolution the series and its characters undergo, that never—not once—changes.

Now let’s look at Zuko’s stated beliefs.

I don’t need luck, though. I’ve always had to struggle and fight, and that’s made me strong. It made me who I am.  

You’re not soldiers; you’re bullies. You’re sick cowards abusing your power, mostly over women and kids.

The people of the Earth Kingdom are proud and strong. They can endure anything, as long as they have hope.

I’ve been through a lot these past few years, and it’s been hard. But lately, I’ve realized that I needed to go through all that to learn the truth. I thought I had lost my honor, and my father could return it somehow. But now I know that no one can give you your honor. It’s something you earn for yourself, by choosing to do what’s right.

Growing up, we were taught that the Fire Nation was the greatest civilization in history, and that somehow, the war was our way of sharing our greatness with the rest of the world. What an amazing lie that was. The people of the world are terrified by the Fire Nation! They don’t see our greatness; they hate us. And we deserve it. We’ve created an era of fear in the world, and if we don’t want the world to destroy itself, we need to replace it with an era of peace and kindness.

A hundred years of fighting has left the world scarred and divided. But with the Avatar’s help, we can get it back on the right path and begin a new era of love and peace.

Zuko’s beliefs come straight from his own experience, rather than somebody else’s. Zuko too has a wise old sage who spouts quoteworthy nuggets at him, but the way he interacts with that wisdom is completely different. Zuko never successfully repeats his uncle’s advice verbatim—the two times he tries, it comes out as indecipherable nonsense. It is through acting on this uncle’s advice and making it his own that Zuko succeeds; he needs to feel what Iroh means, rather than reiterating Iroh’s words. This is a much stronger method of learning than Aang’s is; it’s the difference between critical thinking and rote memorization. That is why Zuko thinks Aang’s beliefs are still in preschool mode—because Aang is telling Katara to just agree with something that the monks said because it was the monks who said it, rather than seeing that Katara’s sense of justice might be different from his own…and that’s okay.

It should be noted that the show (or at least Bryke) take the same approach to Air Nomad beliefs that Aang does. There is this attitude in A:TLA that because all of the Air Nomads were peaceful and were wiped out, Aang needs to keep their ways and wisdom pristine. They were victims, even martyrs—so their ideals should not be touched. This is true even though the monks are only fleshed out in one episode, “The Storm,” in which they seem as flawed and human as anyone:

  1. They told Aang he was the Avatar before he turned sixteen, which Monk Gyatso acknowledges was a mistake.
  2. They refused to let him grow up as a normal boy.
  3. They tried to rush Aang’s training.
  4. They tried to take Aang away from Monk Gyatso, his father figure, mentor, and the wisest monk in the temple.

Is it a tragedy that all these men were killed? Of course. But does that make them the guardians of absolute morality? Should their wisdom be treated as infallible, when we can see that they themselves were anything but? Being the victim of genocide is a terrible thing, but it does not automatically elevate you and your culture to sainthood. Contrast this with the way every other nation’s beliefs are challenged in the show. The Water Tribe’s beliefs about the place of men and women are criticized and proven false by Katara. The Earth Kingdom’s belief in separating the social classes as a key to order is shown to be authoritarian. The Fire Nation’s belief in its own superiority and the rectitude of its conquest is destroying the world

The Air Nomads, though? The Air Nomad beliefs are given a free pass in a way no other nation’s are. Their ways are right, period, and anyone who doesn’t know that will have to be taught otherwise. This sounds good for Aang because he gets to be right so much of the time. But from a narrative perspective, this doesn’t match what the rest of the show is trying to tell us about how understanding and learning from all the four nations makes us stronger. 

Here’s my take: Aang’s Air Nomad philosophy works well in many situations, but not in all of them, and that is true of every philosophy in the Four Nations. That’s why Iroh says drawing wisdom from only one source makes your values rigid and stale. And what could be more stale and rigid than unquestioning repetition? In effect, the Zuko half of A:TLA’s narrative says you should draw wisdom from multiple sources, and the Aang half says that if you don’t stick to Air Nomad tradition, you’ll be compromising your principles. These diametrically opposed and incompatible viewpoints constantly fight each other, all the way to the end of the show, and even spill over into fandom discussions like this one.

Morality is just as much about how you interact with your beliefs as it is about the beliefs themselves. And this is why there’s a difference between who is the better person and who is the better character. Zuko’s beliefs are not superior to Aang’s in theory, but in practice, they are held to the fire, tempered, strengthened as they are proven right and cast aside when proven wrong. Thus when audience members disagree with Zuko’s values, they can at least respect how he came to believe them. Aang’s loss of the Air Nomads is enormous, but when it makes him cling to every belief they have no matter how it’s challenged by the outside world, it hurts his development. Especially since he’s the Avatar and his job is to understand the equality of the nations and their values. Aang’s narrative thread can definitely find an audience among those who already believe the same things that Aang does and don’t have to be told why. But people whose beliefs don’t match Aang’s will have a very hard time being told to just accept that those beliefs are correct without a rigorous examination of them in-show.

Is there a way for Aang to keep his core tenets the same while developing his own value system? Yes, and the key to it lies in the very scene you mentioned.

Behold the corpse of Monk Gyatso, surrounded by the bodies of Fire Nation soldiers whom he killed in self-defense. Aang was specifically shown that his mentor killed those men in the third episode of the series. Yet it never even occurs to Aang to doubt his cherished ideal. He never reconciles what he has heard from the monks with what he has seen with his own eyes. And the fact that Monk Gyatso and Avatar Yangchen—the only two Air Nomads we see break away from the strict Air Nomad code against killing—are also the monks that offer Aang the most genuine wisdom is a huge indicator that it is possible to reconcile the ideals of the monks with the reality of the world that they live in. It’s just not something that Aang was ever required to do himself. Rather, it is reality that is expected to bend and conform to Aang’s belief system so he doesn’t have to change his way of thinking.

The solution: We see a teasing glimpse of how Aang’s beliefs could have been adapted in “The Northern Air Temple.” Aang, as caretaker of his culture, is appalled when he sees the new technology defacing the legacy of his people. Yet after seeing the refugees embodying the spirit of the Air Nomads, Aang accepts them as guardians of the temple, even though they make changes he doesn’t agree with. This is one of the only examples of Aang actually adapting his beliefs to the world, rather than trying to adapt the world to the standards of his particular nation. He is not compromising his beliefs per se; he is learning to keep his beliefs in harmony with the world as it currently is. (Not surprisingly, that episode was written by Elizabeth Ehasz.) And perhaps the thing Aang needs to sacrifice is not the belief that all life is sacred, or that we should forgive our enemies, but the belief that the Air Nomad customs were as pure and untainted as the way he remembers them.

anonymous asked:

i wanna believe we're free to practice witchcraft. i want to. but we're not. idk what you're doing. we can't have sex with people we're not married to, we can't party, we can't swear, we can't practice craft. it breaks my heart, but my mom says it's just breaking the sinful part that christ meant to save us from. i'm working on choking out that part of myself. you should, too. save yourself and go back to our god.

Hey friend. I understand where you’re coming from; I really do. Because honestly, I’ve been there. I tried doing that. I tried being the perfect Evangelical child. I tried so hard and even wound up with a Biblical Studies degree from a high ranking evangelical university. I served others to the point of seriously damaging my own well being. I know Koine Greek well enough to extrapolate various biblical arguments and analyze them and the accuracy of interpretation.

I tried so hard to save myself in order to be God’s Perfect Daughter and do you know what it felt like? Personality prison.

My sister and her husband once hid the fact that they celebrated the New Year with a glass of wine from my parents because for a while my mom wasn’t sure that Christians should drink alcohol. I hid my own sexuality from myself for years. I hid my anger, my frustrations, my questions. Following all the right rules didn’t make me a better Christian, it made me a sneakier one. And it loaded me with guilt and shame because anytime I thought I messed up I assumed God was just…frustrated by how horrible I was. I couldn’t stand how unbiblical I was, why would God even bother with me? It didn’t help that I’d developed anxiety and depression from the age of 16 and didn’t get help because no, I was too good, too kind and caring, I got good grades, I looked good.

That supposed salvation condemned me to hide myself from myself. And when I got angry about things like child abuse and racism and homophobia in the church, my mom basically told me that I’m reading too many negative things about the church and that I need to be more involved with the good churches that aren’t like those other bad ones because Not All Christians are like that.

Do you know what choking yourself of these things does? It hurts you. It keeps you from breathing. If your salvation comes at the cost of enjoying your life and yourself, what is it worth? I tried so hard to choke all those parts of me and it eventually broke me. It put a wedge between me and my family, between me and God.

Strangely enough, it was discovering ritualistic faith/Christian witchcraft that began to mend the bond between me and God. The day I decided to explore it, I had a dream where I watched Jesus come to life out of stone. It renewed my faith, my desire to know God as She truly is, not just as what I was told to believe.

You tell me I should save myself, but Jesus already did. And I use my craft to connect to God, to pray to Her, to love others and myself. I use it as a form of worship. I don’t need to try to be anyone but myself to be saved, to be free.

Maybe it will be different for you. I hope so. I hope you are able to live authentically to yourself within the church. But for me, Christian witchcraft brought me back to God. Leaving evangelicalism was a healthy and necessary choice for me. I found freedom and laughter. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. I have a fiancé, soon to be my wife. (And for some people I’m already going to hell for that lol. If I'a already going to hell, I’m gonna go with a lot of love in my heart for myself and others and be true to myself.) I have friends who encourage me and listen to me and don’t just say “I’ll pray for you.” They let me talk about my feelings and beliefs, even if they don’t agree with me on some of them.

If God is love, shouldn’t that love be freeing rather than confining? If God is love, then why do people insist that love means changing who you are in order for God to love you, in order to be worthy? If God is love, why does that mean that it’s God’s way or eternal suffering, that God is always right and we are always wrong? Is that truly love? If your God was your significant other or parental figure, would it be called love, or would it show signs of abuse? If God is love, why do I feel so miserable following every letter of the Bible, every ideal of the Perfect Christian?

I hope you have a better experience than me. But for me, this is what freedom looks like. I light a votive candle and burn a sigil asking God to help me love myself. I use the herbs of the earth God has made for us to celebrate life, petition them and God to aid me. I get to take part in the act of creation.

And if I am wrong, I am wrong. But I do not believe that living authentically and enjoying yourself is contrary to the love of God. I am human. I am flawed. And I love that.

Sorry for writing such a long response. If you read this whole thing, good on you! I wish you the very best, but I am afraid I cannot return to what once damaged my spirit. I pray that your relationship with God only deepens and allows you to be true to yourself. Take care, friend.

old-long-john  asked:

Prompt: Silver and Flint, "Why are we whispering?" :)

thanks, laura! sorry i didn’t fill the prompt exactly bc i couldn’t get that as a line of dialogue to happen organically, and it’s probably not as funny as the prompt kind of implies :/ but still, hope you like it!

set during 3x9

“Why are we whispering?”

The horns finally stop blowing, and Flint absently says a silent prayer for the departed Mr. Scott. He always had a great deal of respect for the man, particularly now, after discovering who he’d actually been. His presence and guidance will be missed.

Around them, the Maroon villagers begin to mourn, and Flint watches them uncomfortably. He feels intrusive. But they make no move to conceal their hurt, openly weeping with each other, holding each other, comforting each other. Perhaps that is what rattles Flint so much. His own grief he keeps locked away, piling it on as the years go by in the dark, dusty corners of himself. The pile grows, but his frame stays unchanged, so it often feels like he might rip at the seams with all the loss he holds in him.

And yet, he can’t imagine acting the way these people do - publicly embracing their pain like this. He sees it with his own eyes, but it’s like watching birds fly: possible for them, sure, but utterly impossible for him.

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wake up

i couldn’t resist so i wrote some “whiney piney shiney” allura for @zillabean after having such fun with our play-along domestic fluff shallura twitter novella

this drabble is based off of that gold.

There’s nothing that wakes Allura up more than coffee — except a shirtless Shiro.

And that is exactly what she gets when she sleep-stumbles into the castle-ship’s kitchen that morning, seeking a drop of the liquid caffeine gold with her squinting eyes, still trying to get used to the bright white lights, and instead finding a sight chock-full of the Black Paladin’s back muscles.

He only has on red flannel pajama pants and a fresh mug of brew in his hand. The hair on the back of his head is still slightly flattened from last night’s sleep, there’s a peep of the lining of his boxers just above the hem of his pajamas, and his right arm whirs softly as it warms up for his first actual movement of the day, raising the coffee to his lips —

“Oh, Allura,” he greets her, when he hears her eep. “I saved you some —“

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anonymous asked:

m feeling really depressed right now because of Robin Williams passing. Whenever I was feeling like there was no hope left for me, I would turn to his movies to help cheer me up. I understand that the movies are still there and everything, but knowing he gave up on life when he was the one helping to save mine, I feel like there really isn't a point in trying to get past this. Because if the man who saved my life can't, what makes me think that I can?

I thought about this ask all day and I wasn’t quite sure how to answer it because I know this is an incredibly sensitive subject and I am by no means any kind of expert on depression. All I can say if that I’ve been there before, I still get very down on myself and go to dark places in my mind.

First off, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with admitting that you’re depressed to your friends and family. In fact, if you haven’t already, you should. And if for some reason they’re anything less than helpful and loving, if they say anything bad about it at all, screw that. Don’t let anyone make you feel like this is anything but what it is. Depression does not mean you are “looking for attention” and it does not mean that you’re being selfish. Don’t put up with that attitude toward it. There are many communities online or even around where you live, that are full of people who are struggling with the same thing. Maybe not the exact same thing, because everyone is different and everyone struggles for their own personal unique reasons, but they understand. It’s very important to remember that you are not, in any way, alone in this world. There will always be someone who wants to help you, someone who sincerely, genuinely cares. 

That said, Robin Williams suffered from his own depression, no one will ever know for sure how deep or how dark it might have been for him. It’s very heartbreaking to know that he couldn’t find a way out. It doesn’t matter how happy everyone thinks he should have been because of who he was, that’s not what depression is all about. It hurts my heart to think about it because I know he gave so much to the world and couldn’t find that spark to keep himself going, but you can’t let his story change the course of your own.

What I’m about to say is my personal belief on this subject and many may disagree, and as I said before I’m definitely not qualified to suggest any course of action here, but I’m going to do my best. I believe it’s important to have support system for yourself. Whether it’s made of family members, friends, or people from depression support groups themselves, I think having a positive circle of people who care for you and your struggle is something everyone in this world needs. However, I believe it’s also very very important that you don’t look to or rely on others to help you. That may seem like a scary thought but to me it’s been something important to remember. People come and go in our lives and if you credit one person for all of your happiness, well sometimes I just doesn’t go well. Depression is a problem that has to be fixed internally and I’ve come to realize over the years that a lot of that has to be done on your own. It’s always extremely important to have someone to talk to, to help you out and to assure you that you’re loved. But it’s also important to work through this yourself, on your own terms, to be able to begin to heal.

Do you like music? I’ve worked in the industry before and I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met with stories about how music(or a band in particular) saved their life. Now I know that seems contradicting to what I just said but music in one of those mediums, like any kind of art, that you can completely lose yourself in. It speaks to you, it molds to fit your unique mindset, it gives your heart something to beat to. People don’t give themselves enough credit when they begin to heal. The same goes for any kind of hobby or passion you might have. Do you love painting? Writing? Cosplaying? Lose yourself in it a little, it’s okay. I’m constantly discovering new things about myself through cosplaying and having that creative outlet. It ignites a spark of excitement, it gives me things to look forward to and to dedicate parts of myself to. Another big one for me is nature. Going outside and finding a place away from everything to have a stroll, to breathe in the fresh air and to watch the wildlife and listen to the birds, it does wonders for me. Just feeling the Earth beneath my feet and realizing that I’m part of something huge and we’re all in it together, and every single one of us is important and plays a role. Animals help me. Learning new things helps me. Traveling helps, seeing new places. There’s an entire world out there and it’s full of plenty of bad things but if you blow away that blanket of dust you’ll find so many wonderful, shiny things. And one of those shiny things will appeal to you and you’ll latch on and you’ll feel like you’re shedding a whole skin of yourself.

I know this is all hard to comprehend and I know how easy it is to feel totally uninspired and secluded and hopeless. But it will get better. There is something out there for you, waiting patiently, ready to go on this journey with you. You just have to keep searching, love. You have to. Because I know there are people out there who believe in you. I believe in you. Keep your chin up, darling. There are better things for you on that horizon, the best is yet to come.