Inspirational Characters

I had another post planned. Planned and mostly written, actually. I like it. But I’m very tired and have a lot going on right now, so I was having trouble pulling it together and finding a way to end it. I’ll save it for next time. Right now I think I’ll do a bit of a silly filler post.

I’ve talked about pop culture here before, at least a little about how it ties into religion. And recently I talked about my sudden realization that God is Love, not just as a general concept but in that for me love is the way I experience God and that love is what I mean when I talk about God (and vice versa). So I figured today I’d combine those and list a few of the fictional characters that mean a lot to me and inspire me to be more compassionate. In other words, characters that in some way represent Divine Love.

1. Fluttershy (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic)
fluttershyblog
For those not familiar with it (if such people still exist), My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a cartoon that’s been around the past several years. (I think we’re in season 5? Maybe?) It’s kind of a reboot of the 80s show some of us might remember and the 90s show I don’t remember at all, but completely redone so that it’s not really the same at all. It more closely resembles cartoons like Powerpuff Girls, Teen Titans, any of the more recent action-comedy type cartoons that showed up in my “too old to watch cartoons and too young to be nostalgic about them” phase. Apparently they were pretty great, so that’s a bummer. But hey, at least I have this!

The main characters (or the mane 6, because puns) each represent a different virtue related to friendship…or relationships in general…or magic…Well, given the title I guess that last one still counts. And yes, that’s the first time I’ve realized that, I kind of just thought Twilight was the odd one out here. But I guess she kind of represents friendship as a whole?

Twilight Sparkle is the actual main (Mane. I can’t not do it. I’ve tried to write this without the pun 5 times. Apparently I literally cannot discuss this series without the puns.) character, a princess who is sent to this little town to learn how to make friends, which she does not want to do at first. But she learns to like them and they discover that together they wield magic friendship powers and they eventually rule their town together round-table style. Cool.

Fluttershy represents the power of kindness. She is adorable and timid and sweet and she talks to animals. No, not just ponies, ponies are people here. Bunnies and butterflies and squirrels and such, which are not people and instead are often pets. One of the other ponies gets a pet alligator. It’s roughly the same size as the bunnies.

Fluttershy becomes a lot less timid and will actually confront scary enemies when they make her angry by being bullies. Kind of like me. She’s all about protecting those that need it, whether those are her friends or total strangers, ponies or “animals.”

I used to get into a lot of arguments online. I didn’t like it. Very stressful, many times I could feel my heart beating too hard and fast to the point I worried I might actually be hurting myself. So I put a Fluttershy toy on top of my computer to remind me to be pony-like: always be kind and try to make friends or at least repair relationships rather than focus on winning. It’s silly, but it helped.

2. The Tenth Doctor (Doctor Who)
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Yay, David Tennant! One of my favorite actors! But this isn’t actually about him. This is about a character he plays, the Doctor. Specifically, the 10th Doctor. Because this show has been on for decades (though not continuously) and actors age but this alien species called Time Lords don’t (at least not in the same way, not nearly as fast), the clever writers introduced the idea that when a Time Lord is about to die, they can regenerate. They completely re-write their biology and become a different person. Despite this complete overwrite, the Doctor’s incarnations have so far all been white men. >.>

Moving on.

I’ve watched at least bits and pieces from most of the Doctors. They’re alright. But Ten is definitely my favorite and my go-to for talking about the Doctor’s motivations, even while I realize that his motives and personality shift as he does. Ten comes right after a particularly bitter and closed-off incarnation, and when he regenerates we get this incredibly open and caring version who wears his feelings right out there on his sleeve (and in his great big ultra-round tear-filled eyes). He’s very old, very sad, and he loves you. I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done, he loves you and if he could make it all right he would. Because he’s seen enough go bad and he doesn’t want to lose anyone else.

Even when he thinks he’s being harsh, as in one episode where he remarks that he “used to have so much mercy,” he’s doing it to protect as many people as possible. And he always gives the villain a chance to turn back and do the right thing. It’s not about winning, he wants to fix the world with love and make it so even the worst, most evil people can be redeemed. And when I watch his episodes, I really believe that they can.

(And then I watch Secret Smile and everything is ruined forever…until I go back to more Doctor Who.)

3. Wonder Woman
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“Make a hawk a dove
stop a war with love
make a liar tell the truth!”

Well, the theme song from the live action series kind of says it all. Wonder Woman’s creator wanted to see a superhero who defeated enemies through love rather than fighting, and his wife said that character should be a woman. So here she is! She fights the evils of Patriarchy in order to bring peace and equality. That’s not to say there’s not some iffy stuff in her history, but overall a pretty progressive character. I like her.

Originally, she falls in love with the first man she sees (since she grew up on an island with no men) and goes to Man’s World (everywhere but that island) to return him home and then also try to fix things there. Yeesh. In more recent versions, that was changed and she goes specifically to help bring peace to the suffering world outside her island, no need for a love interest to get things going and start her life’s mission.

I like all the versions. I acknowledge that there are problems with some of the older work (and apparently some stuff I missed with the most recent comic reboot), but Wonder Woman is fantastic and I love her all the time. Considering when she was originally created, I’m just amazed the comics are as progressive and feminist as they are. And even if I wasn’t so into Wonder Woman in any incarnation and was thrown off more by the romantic obsession, there’s Etta Candy. Etta Candy is amazing and perfect and I think actually at her best in the early comics, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Unlike the other two on this list, I never feel that intense compassion in her words, actions, or expression. Not to say it isn’t there, just that it’s not as obvious to me. Emotions are hard, they have to be emphasized quite a bit before I can easily pick up on them. But the backstory makes it clear that this is her motivation, so I can still hold up the series as an ideal of saving the world with love rather than might. I’m not all that mighty, but I have a pretty big capacity for love, once I get past anger as these characters inspire me to do.

I think the fact that I don’t emotionally connect to her as much makes Wonder Woman more useful in her own way at times. If compassion is based only on emotions, there are going to be times when I give into that anger because that’s what I feel. In Wonder Woman love is quite clearly a virtue rather than an emotion, something that rises above the shifting seas of feelings. No matter what our emotional state, we can choose to love and work on responding that way in all situations. That’s my goal these days.

Okay, that’s about all I have the energy to do right now. Continued list another time? Maybe. And if you have any characters that are particularly inspiring for you, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. For now, good night Internet.

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