Thursday, June 28, 2012

Airbending and the Spirit

Disclaimer:  This post has spoilers of the Legend of Korra season 1 finale.  If you are sensitive to spoilers and haven't seen the finale don't read this.  Otherwise, please read on.

Poster for the season finale of The Legend of Korra.
It's no secret I love Avatar: The Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra spin-off series.  Charming characters, cool martial arts, and intelligent story development.  Those familiar with the series know that it takes a lot of it's ideas from eastern lore and religion.  When I watch the series I don't expect to find spiritual allegories for this reason.  However, the first season finale of Korra surprised me with an allegory on the spirit.  It's important to have some Airbending Lore knowledge before I get into this allegory.  

The thing you should know about the Air Nomads is that they are the most spiritual of the four nations.  The Air Nomads would travel around the world and were the most peaceful of all the nations.  Their style of martial arts is very defensive.  When you look at it, it looks like a dance.  It is excellent at evading.  Although it does stop opponents it is the least lethal of all the fighting styles.

The cool thing about air is that you can't see it.  Fire, Water, and Earth are all clearly visible and tangible.  Airbenders use an element that in of itself is not seen but effects are.  The spirit and influence of Christ is very much the same.  When you go to share your testimony, act in service, or speak kind words, you can feel presence or influence of the Holy Ghost.  Even though it can't be seen, it's effects solidify truth.

What makes Korra so interesting as a character is her difficulty with Airbending.  Korra has mastered the other three elements of Water, Earth, and Fire.  In fact, she excels at the physical responsibility of being the Avatar.  While her talents in martial arts are incredible she has very little connection to the spirits of the earth, the past Avatars, and her self.  Aang, being an Airbender, was the opposite.  He had visions and was connected to his spiritual side from the beginning of the first episode.

Korra's struggle to connect to spirit makes up most of the first season.  Her decisions are sometimes rash and she desperately wants to connect with the spirit of Aang (the previous Avatar) but with little avail.  Her personality is arrogant in her abilities.

After Korra's up-hill-battle to learn Airbending she loses all ability to bend from Amon's Bloodbending powers in the season finale.  (Quick Tangent:  It's interesting that Amon, the bad guy in the show, is an expert Bloodbender.  Bloodbending essentially takes away a person's agency and tortures them.  There's a whole other allegory here I would write about more about but kind of already did in a previous post.  The best antagonists in storytelling will be so similar to the adversary.)

Korra loses so much more then her ability to bend.  She feels like she loses herself.  Korra, the expert bender who has prided herself on her abilities, her identity as the Avatar, has lost all of it.  Mako and her try to escape Amon but he quickly recovers from Mako's blasts to bloodbend Mako right to Amon's feet.  While Mako is forced to kneel down, Amon reaches for his forehead to take away bending from the talented Firebender.
Korra loses her ability to bend the elements to Amon!

Korra is humbled and weakened from Amon's attack.  Seeing her love in danger she lashes out with any energy she can possibly summon to unleash a fierce wind that sends Amon backwards.  "I can airbend?!  I can airbend!!"  Because of her humility and love for Mako, Korra connects to her spiritual side and is able to bend the element no one can see: Air.

This is what I get from Airbending and what it says about the Spirit and righteousness.  The first is that evil always underestimates the power of God.   The bad guys in this show always underestimates Air.  It is the soft yet powerful force of Airbending that defeats Amon.  The first time Equalist Chi Blockers try to capture Tenzin's family of Airbenders they are caught off guard by a form of bending they haven't faced before.  The same is the case for the power of God in our own life.

The spirit of God works when everything else fails.  Amon was able to take away all the powers Korra had except Airbending.  I wonder if Airbenders can even be effected by Amon's ability.  You'd think Korra's bending ability would be for any element.  But Air was strong when the others failed.  In our own lives we can always rely on the principles of the Gospel and the promptings of the spirit when we lose jobs, family members, or other hardships.

Korra in the Avatar State having finally connected with her spiritual self.
In fact, it was when Korra was deep in hardship that she was able to tap into her spiritual side and unlock her ability to bend Air.  Later, the spirit of Avatar Aang tells her, "When we hit our lowest point we are open to the greatest change."  Trials are rough but they are often blessings in disguise.  I know for me, if it weren't for the trials I faced I wouldn't be a solid friend, close to my savior, or have the other blessings I have in my life today.  When we are humbled, like Korra, we can unlock potential inside of us only our Father in Heaven knows exists.

I really hope you enjoyed The Legend of Korra as much as I did.  I know that as we hit that lowest point we can always rely on the spirit of God to help us out of it and unlock our potential.


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