“As a matter of fact, I’m worthless without my friends to help me out. … You’re right, I don’t have a clue how to use a sword. I’m a terrible sailor, I definitely can’t cook, and I can’t even lie. And without my friends to help me, I would have been dead a long time ago.
– Monkey D. Luffy, One Piece
Episode 42, “Explosion! Fishman Arlong’s Fierce Assault From the Sea!”
When Luffy, one of my favorite characters in all of anime, says these words, it is a sharp contrast between him and his opponent, Arlong. Arlong and his fellow fishmen have been going on and on and on about how “superior” they are to humans, so small and weak and unable to breath underwater. Luffy himself, the strongest of Arlong’s human opponents at the moment, has just needed his friends to save his life, and that’s the only reason he’s even still in the fight.
So it seems that the fishmen should be winning this fight, hands down, right?
Then why are they losing?
That is because they continually look down on humans, underestimating their skill, strength, cunning, and determined resilience. Most of all, where the fishmen have each been standing alone, the humans have been working together. When a fishman has needed help, he hasn’t found it. When a human has needed help, it has been given.
This isn’t a new thing, either. Luffy and his crew have always worked together, and always had friends. That’s how they win against enemies that should, by rights, defeat them.
I’ve found it to be a sadly common misconception among people, that they think they themselves alone are all they need, that they can overcome anything on their own. Myself, I know I’m a terribly weak person. As much as I try to do everything on my own, I need people to help me out. I always will. Fortunately, I seem pretty good at knowing who I can rely on. I can only hope that they find me as reliable as I find them to be.
But this goes further than proud lone wolves. It also goes to entire groups of people who think they don’t need this other group of people to help them get things done. They’ve mastered working together in their group, but they fail to work anyone else. They know they are stronger together than they are alone, but they think they are stronger than they really are. When they fail, then, it’s a blow to their perception of their own strength, so they blame anything and everything besides themselves for their failure.
Lone wolves do the same. “It’s this person’s fault! It’s that person’s fault! It would have been different if I’d known!” Teenagers are very guilty of this, generally speaking. 😉
Either way, it’s counter-productive.
What everyone needs to learn is: we all need each other. We need our friends, we need our community, and we even need those groups of people who disagree with us. We need to find common ground and work together.
We’re all stuck living together in this world, so we need to make it work.
We need each other.
Whatever our differences, and they are many, we need each other to survive.
United, we stand.