“Sometimes the best way to solve your own problems, is to help someone else.”
– Iroh, The Legend of Korra
Season 2, Episode 10, “A New Spiritual Age”
Uncle Iroh, as most of us know him, was a very wise, and very compassionate, old man in Avatar: The Last Airbender and the sequel, The Legend of Korra. He was a constant source of guidance and strength to those around him. There’s one episode where they show him helping complete strangers all over, including a mother with her upset child and a guy who tries to mug him. As a spirit, after his death, he is able to help the next generation as well, including, in this scene, a young woman, who is having such a difficult time with the weight of the world on her shoulders that she’s at the end of her rope.
That’s when he gives her this bit of wisdom, among several others, and it rings true.
It’s even more powerful when one recalls the terrible things that happened to Iroh himself, all the problems he faced, including horrible betrayals and threats to his life from members of his own family, not to mention the devastating loss of his son in battle. Many people, under similar circumstances, would become hard, embittered, and selfish in the extreme. But not Iroh. No, Iroh looked outward, beyond himself, and he helped and saved many people, including his nephew. And, somewhere along the way, he not only found inner peace, but a happy life, and a happy afterlife.
Now, the advice he gives to Korra is applied a bit more directly and immediately than usual. She helps a lost little bird get back to its nest, and the bird then helps her get to where she needs to go. A bit of help in exchange for a bit of help. Sometimes it might work that way, but, more often, it’s not quite so literal, yet still absolutely effective.
Many of the world’s problems stem from people being selfish, sometimes on a massive scale. Even in the best of circumstances, our troubles, very valid troubles, can feel overwhelming. It’s easy to get lost inside that. But we have to remember that we are not the only ones with problems. We all need help, from time to time.
As a certain song says, “What the world needs now is love.” Love is unselfishness, and unselfishness is manifested in acts of kindness and caring.
It is the act of helping, of giving something selflessly, which strengthens the soul to face any adversity. It lifts us up from the mire of our own problems, to gain a fresh perspective, with a revitalized spirit.
It might not seem so practical, at first glance, but if we can keep from looking only at ourselves, then practical solutions can make themselves manifest in surprising ways.
So… let’s do some good, eh? 😉