Avatar the Last Airbender: Why Support Groups Are Very Important

Support. We all need it. For different times and different reasons. And whether or not we get it when we need it, can be the difference between graceful successes or disgruntle failure. But do we even realize how important it is? Do we have the foresight to realize how much being there for someone REALLY MATTERS? Avatar the Last Airbender is a complex story which answers these questions and shows us how important support and the groups they come from really are.

Now if you’re like me, you have been stuck at home, quarantined with nothing to do but absorb all the content the world has to offer. It started real slow, first, with all the shows you were already watching. Then, the stuff that’s been sitting on your list. Next thing you know you are knee deep in a French documentary about cow farming. At this point you’re contemplating re-watching old shows to ease the creeping feeling of cabin fever. That’s where I was, and thank god for Netflix when I found out they added Avatar the Last Airbender to their library.                                                                                                              

What is avatar the last Airbender

What is Avatar the Last Airbender? Avatar the Last Airbender or ATLA for short, is an American animated television shows that aired from 2005 to 2008. It stars the current Avatar (someone who can use the four elements that comprise the world) Aang, and his adventures with his friends on his journey to mastering the four elements and defeating the Fire Lord. The show also stars his friends Sokka, Katara, and Toph, as well as his adversary turned ally Zuko.  Together, they fight against the Fire Lord, while learning and growing past their induvial traumas, and together as a group. They will travel many distant lands, meet many interesting people, and discover the magic and mystery of the denizens of the spirit realm.

 Looking at the series as a whole it is easy to see how much care the creators put into giving the characters real struggles and real growth. From Aang having to deal with the loss of his family, to Zuko having to reconcile the pain of a toxic family. The creators also put a great deal of effort in showing how characters like these can either rise or fall by their relationships with other characters. Watching the show it becomes apparent how support groups, or lack thereof, shapes these characters and the struggles they persist through.                                                                      

What is a support group? Why is it important?

So what is a support group, why does it matter, and why should I have one? Put simply, a support group can be a person or people with common experiences or concerns who provide each other with encouragement, comfort, and advice. It is essential to a person’s growth to have a support group that can be there when they need it. Proper support can be the difference between being stuck chasing the impossible or achieving your destiny. Let’s take a look at two of the main characters Aang and Zuko, and see how their stories unfold when impacted by proper and improper support.

Aang and his support group

First, we look at Aang. At twelve he learned that he was the Avatar, and with that he learned of the immense pressure that come with such a tittle. He was now charged with keeping the world in balance, while mastering the four elements that often takes a lifetime to master one. All this during the uncertainty and danger of a world war. Although his teachers loved him, they could not relate to him, causing Aang to flee, ultimately resulting in him being incased in ice for one hundred years.

Contrast that with Aang one hundred years later. Through unlikely circumstances he becomes surrounded by a group of peers that help him take on the world. He is happy and although he faces many challenges, he has comrades who can face them with him. With proper support and unconventional methods he was able to master the four elements and defeat the Phoenix King. He was also able to go on and maintain healthy relationships as well have a successful marriage, raise three children, and establish the United Republic of Nations.

Zuko and Uncle Iroh

Next, we look at Zuko. At sixteen he was forced to duel his father the Fire Lord, which results in him being stripped of his tittle, scarred both physically and emotionally, as well as sent on a mission his father thought was impossible. The toxic relationship he has with his father only serves to leave him hurt and angry, a trait that presents itself whenever he communicates with others.

Luckily for him he has a support group in the form of Uncle Iroh. Uncle Iroh is and accomplished general who has many connections with the other four nations and has traveled the world in the name of conquest. Uncle Iroh accompanies Zuko on his mission, and unlike his other family members understands love and compassion. Through their adventures of tracking down Aang, hiding in Ba Sing Se, and taking on the fire nation, Uncle Iroh shows Zuko the love he needs to grow past his traumas and confront his family. With proper support he goes on to become the Fire Lord and usher in a new order of peace and prosperity.

Azula and false support group

While these two did have support groups that helped push them, let’s look at a character who didn’t have the support she needed. Azula is the younger sister of Prince Zuko and the daughter of Fire Lord Ozai. As a natural firebending prodigy she quickly gained favor with her father. In a toxic family environment that valued brute strength and fear tactics over mental health she grew to mirror the cruelty and sadistic nature of her father.

This caused her to gather a group that she commanded through fear and aggression, rather than love and understanding. In the end, even though she achieved her goal of becoming Fire Lord, it was a hollow achievement that she could share with no one. In the final confrontation between her and Zuko she was left defeated and broken mentally, exposing the downsides of building a life without peers.

Conclusion

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In conclusion, being locked up in quarantine,  can often feel like your all alone. When that happens its best to remind yourself of all the people that you can reach out to for support. It’s also helpful to remember to be there to support others as they need it as that can be the difference between growing loving relationships and being left in the cold. And if you don’t have someone yet, it’s never too late to start looking to build those crucial relationships.

Support groups are essential to the growth of human beings, and the creators of Avatar the Last Airbender were able to weave that lesson seamlessly in their work.  Aang, Zuko, and many other characters grow and change over the course of the series, and that is in large part to their support of each other. However characters like Ozai and Azula are left broken because they lacked the ability to develop and be a part of a support group.

With all that said if you have not watched Avatar the Last Airbender, I suggest you start right now! If you can’t tell, I adore this show and highly recommend it. It’s a great watch that has many amazing stories and even better lessons to tell over its three seasons to learn and reflect on. So grab a buddy and get to watching, enjoy!

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