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Home > Avatar the Last Airbender: Five Lessons We Can Learn from Uncle Iroh

Avatar the Last Airbender: Five Lessons We Can Learn from Uncle Iroh

Uncle Iroh

One of Television’s Wisest Uncles

Many fans would agree that Avatar the Last Airbender is a show with many lovable characters. There are eccentric ones like Aang or Sokka who crack hilarious quips and have a lot of goofy expressions. Then there are the more threatening and serious ones like Prince Zuko, Azula, or Katara, who often yell and make threats to others. Most fans might agree that aside from them, perhaps one of the best and most lovable characters is none other than Uncle Iroh. His calm and assertive nature, paired with his words of wisdom, seems to leave viewers just wanting more. With all that said, here are five lessons from Uncle Iroh. 

Pride is Not the Opposite of Shame

Uncle Iroh

It is not too much of a shock that many of Uncle Iroh’s wisdom lessons occur whenever his nephew struggles to remain calm. When noticing Prince Zuko’s frustration in learning to bend lightning, Iroh advises him about his conflict in letting go of shame. But Zuko rejects his statement and says he feels no shame and is “as proud as ever.” To this, Iroh responds by saying, “Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame.” This quote is such a hard-hitting truth for fans and is rather insightful. 

In this day and age, it can be easy to fall into the trap of seeking validation from others and feel valued and important. However, seeking outward affirmation only fuels feelings of self-hatred and shame. It is a temporary state of happiness that will only need be rekindled. It will never end so long as one depends on others for happiness. Therefore, Iroh reminds others that it is only when one accepts oneself for who they are that they can be free of this turmoil and find inner peace and happiness. 

Choose the Life You Want, Not What Others Want 

Uncle Iroh

Maintaining a happy and healthy life isn’t exactly easy for most people. Sometimes people focus so much on how others will perceive them and fear being judged that they forget about their wants and needs. Prince Zuko shows these same feelings in season two. In one scene, the prince becomes frustrated and tells Uncle Iroh he wants to do more than just spend his life serving tea. He tells Iroh that he already knows what his destiny is. But Iroh pushes him further, asking, “Is it your destiny, or a destiny that someone else has tried to force on you? It’s time for you to look inward and ask yourself the big questions: Who are you, and what do you want?” 

Like Prince Zuko, many fans may find these types of questions may be hard to answer. Sometimes, it can feel like one’s peers, family, or even strangers have a pretty good idea of what they want in life. But others might have been so used to living a busy life like school or work that it seems like they have no direction for themselves once they move on from those things. Nonetheless, Uncle Iroh reminds Zuko and viewers that no matter what, it is important to consider one’s feelings first before committing to something, not just how other people feel. If someone only does what others want, they may live a life full of dissatisfaction. 

Never Give Into Despair  

Uncle Iroh

Everyone hits a slump at least once in their life. Some days, it may seem like there is just so much going on, and that there’s nothing one can do, that it feels so much easier to give up. Prince Zuko felt the same way, telling his uncle there was no hope of escaping exile if he couldn’t capture the avatar. And to this, Iroh responds with great worry, saying, “You must never give into despair. Allow yourself to slip down that road, and you surrender to your lowest instincts. In the darkest times, hope is something you give yourself. That is the meaning of inner strength.”

By giving into despair, one becomes more vulnerable and opens the path to fall deeper into the darkness. It is a path of destruction and may even lead someone to make dangerous choices for themselves or others. Thus, Iroh urges to never let oneself be consumed by darkness. They must find hope even in the darkest times because that’s the first step to recovery. 

Wisdom is Found in Other Places  

Uncle Iroh

There is no shame in sticking to routines or areas one knows they will find comfort in. However, at times, it may feel limiting not to allow oneself to step out of their shell every once in a while and have new experiences. This may even occur with the type of people one chooses to surround themselves with. Some may wonder why bother trying new things when they are perfectly content with where they are in life. The same thoughts crossed Zuko’s mind when Iroh taught him about the four element tribes. 

When explaining what each element and tribe represents, Zuko asks his uncle why he is giving him this information. Uncle Iroh tells him, “It’s important to draw wisdom from different places. If you take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale.” Sure, it can be easier to stick to what is familiar, but by remaining in isolation, one does not allow themselves to grow. It would only limit oneself from obtaining new knowledge from other places. Therefore, it is important for individuals to consider other perspectives and to have an open mind. This, in turn, will help form better connections with others and, as Iroh said, “become whole.” 

Asking Others for Help is Not Weakness  

Uncle Iroh

Perhaps one of the biggest lessons from Iroh is that one should not be ashamed to ask others for help. At times, it may seem like consulting peers may just come across as a burden. Because of this, some people may shy away from asking for help and learn to handle problems on their own and not appear weak. Toph had these exact feelings, but Uncle Iroh had something else to say about it. He tells her, “There is nothing wrong with letting people love you and help you.”

Based on this interaction, Uncle Iroh suggests that bottling up emotions will only amplify  feelings of self-hatred and may even destroy relationships. Therefore, something viewers should take note of is that although it is good for someone to focus on taking care of themselves, it does not mean they would be weak if they also asked for help elsewhere. 

Conclusion

Overall, Uncle Iroh seems to be one of the best characters in Avatar the Last Airbender. His compassion but assertiveness with Prince Zuko and others makes him a great role model to live by. Fans would likely agree that many of his words of wisdom could help viewers reflect deeply on their morals and values. Perhaps it would not be such a bad idea then to take his words into consideration and apply them to the real world. 

Avatar the Last Airbender is available to stream on Netflix, Prime Video, Paramount Plus, Apple TV, The Roku Channel, and Vudu.

Uncle Iroh’s Wisest and Most Iconic Moments – Avatar: The Last Airbender

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Marc Agbayani's favorite genres to write are fantasy, science fiction, horror, action,n and mystery. His inspiration for writing stems from his love of various forms of pop culture, such as the film series Star Wars by George Lucas and the video game series The Legend of Zelda by Shigeru Miyamoto. In his free time, he enjoys writing, reading, listening to music, going to the gym, and hosting game nights with friends

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