Many of us grew up watching "Avatar: The Last Airbender" as children. However, this show is truly a masterpiece and has invaluable lessons that can influence every age group.
From its amazing storytelling, incredible animation, lovable and diverse characters, great redemption arc, its strong portrayal of disabilities, and impressive villains, it's clear to see why the show is so highly praised.
Along with all of these attributes, ATLA intertwines wisdom and guidance as the characters are faced with difficult choices.
1. “Life happens wherever you are, whether you make it or not.” -Uncle Iroh
Uncle Iroh is one of the most beloved characters in the ATLA world because of his infinite wisdom and adorable love for tea. He also offers the best advice. This quote is especially relevant to today's climate as it seems that the world is somewhat on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we must remember that life goes on and if you're not careful it will leave you behind. This is an important lesson because even while being stuck at home our lives are going on and we must remember to make the most of it and cherish every moment.
2. “But now you’re not letting yourself feel anything. I know sometimes it hurts more to hope and it hurts more to care. But you have to promise me that you won’t stop caring.” -Katara
Katara is known for being the character that gives a lot of speeches on hope, but her words are actually very important as they teach us to never give up on hope. Katara's words directly relate to mental well-being as oftentimes when people are feeling overwhelmed they tend to "turn off" their emotions. However, it's important that you process those feelings in a safe, positive way.
3. “Sometimes life is like this tunnel. You can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you keep moving, you will come to a better place.” -Uncle Iroh
Once again, we are reminded of the importance of being hopeful and looking forward. Especially now when things seem bleak it is important to be reminded of the light at the end of the tunnel.
4. “When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change.” -Aang
Although Aang is only twelve years old (or 112) he is very wise. This quote reminds us that when you are at your lowest the only way to go is up. And oftentimes we can surprise ourselves by the positive changes we can make during this time.
5. “There’s nothing wrong with a life of peace and prosperity. I suggest you think about what it is that you want from your life, and why.” -Uncle Iroh
Iroh taught us to always ponder the reason behind our actions and reflect on why we are doing things. He showed us that we should put our own happiness first instead of doing what the world wants us to do. This quote emphasizes that happiness does not have to be extravagant or glamorous, instead, it can be simple.
6. “Look, you’re going to fail a lot before things work out. Even though you’ll probably fail over and over again, you have to try every time. You can’t quit because you’re afraid you might fail.” -Zuko
Prince Zuko is another favorite Avatar character and definitely one of the most determined. We see how resilient and persistent he is even after getting banished from the Fire Nation by his own father. Zuko holds on tightly to his pride, but he soon learns that he might have to let go of it in order to make the right decision. Zuko's redemption arc is an especially important part of the show. Zuko taught us to never give up even when things are hard and we might feel like giving up. He also showed us that we should not let the fear of failure keep us from trying.
7. “I’m not looking for anyone’s approval. I know who I am.” -Toph
Toph is one of the most powerful characters on the show and what sets her apart is the fact that she is blind. However, she doesn't let her disability stop her and instead portrays it in a positive light. Toph is known for being strong and resilient and we see how confident she feels in her own skin. From her we learn that it does not matter what others think of you because you know your own worth.
8. “The greatest illusion of this world is the illusion of separation. Things you think are separate and different are actually one and the same. We are all one people, but we live as if divided.” -Guru Pathik
Guru Pathik is introduced as a spiritual character who believes that it is his duty to help Aang navigate that Avatar State. He imparts some important sentiments onto Aang such as this quote. This quote definitely matches today's atmosphere of activism and allyship. It directly reminds of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and how we are all part of one race, the human race, and as such we must come together to enact change.
9. “Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame.” -Uncle Iroh
While being confident is important, Uncle Iroh showed us that too much pride and arrogance can be detrimental. He taught us to look at the "source" of our emotions, showing that pride often stems from a place of shame. In my opinion, humility is a very important but rare trait that many people do not have. Iroh revealed that being humble is the way to truly overcome your shame.
10. “No one can give you your honor. It’s something you earn for yourself by choosing to do what’s right.” -Zuko
Although Zuko is portrayed as an honor-obsessed banished prince, it's important to acknowledge his character development. Because of Zuko, we know that honor comes from choosing to do the right thing. It is not something that someone can give to you or take away.
11. “We can’t concern ourselves with what was; we must act on what is.” -Monk Gyatso
Monk Gyatso was Aang's first teacher and also a very wise person. In today's day and age it is all too easy to get caught up in the past or worry about the future. However, Gyasto taught us how important it is to stay in the present and focus on the current situation. You cannot change the past, so why dwell on it instead of taking action for a better future.
12. “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again. Only this time, more wisely.” -Uncle Iroh
It is obvious that Uncle Iroh taught Zuko many things about acknowledging failure and how to move on from it. I think that this quote is brilliant because it is so simple yet so powerful and true. Learning from past mistakes was an important central theme in 'Avatar' and Iroh reminds us to not let our failures get us down but to learn and grow from them.
13. “It’s easy to do nothing, it’s hard to forgive.” -Aang.
One of the things that makes Aang such a great main character is his hesitation to resort to violence and anger. He always tries to find a more peaceful way to solve his problems. When Aang advises Katara to not give into anger and to not revengefully go after her mother's killer, Aang is seen by the others as wanting to do nothing. However, Aang shows that he is not being passive by wanting Katara to forgive the killer. Forgiving someone is harder to do that resorting to anger to get your way. Nonetheless, Aang teaches us the importance of forgiveness.
14. “It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If you take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale.” -Uncle Iroh
These words could not be more timely. In today's age when cancel culture is so prevalent, it is easy to get caught up in what is being said on social media without actually fact-checking it. Iroh teaches us to get our knowledge from a variety of sources. This is also applicable in an academic sense because it's important to be open to different avenues of learning and that is the only way to obtain a complete education.
15. "Well, actually, I've been all over the world. And I know one thing for sure. I have a lot to learn." -Sokka
Sokka is beloved for his humor and is often seen as the comic relief character. However, true ATLA fans know that Sokka is actually a very complex character who shows that you do not need to have special abilities to change the world. Similar to Iroh, Sokka shows us the importance of being humble and acknowledging the fact that you do not know everything. This is especially relevant now because the only way we can make the world a better place is by educating ourselves and that requires accepting that you might not be as knowledgeable about a certain topic as you think.
16. "Sometimes the best way to solve your own problems is to help someone else." -Uncle Iroh
Iroh is also regarded as one of the most selfless characters as he always stops to help others. We see this as he chooses to leave the Fire Nation, his home, in order to aid his nephew, Zuko. Iroh taught us the importance of putting others first and seeing how we can be helpful. He also showed us that the best feeling of self-fulfillment comes from helping others.
17. "I don't need luck, though. I don't want it. I've always had to struggle and fight, and that's made me strong. It's made me who I am." -Zuko
Zuko repeatedly taught us the honor that comes from fighting and struggling for what we want. We learned that facing challenges makes you stronger and that you should never stop fighting to achieve your dreams. No amount of luck can beat sheer effort and will when it comes to obtaining your goals. Zuko taught us to keep sight of our objectives and to always stay determined.