Parallels: Avengers Infinity War and Life


 In Avengers Infinity war, Thanos arrives at Vormir with Gamora to collect the soul stone as he is on a quest to secure the infinity stones that would give him the ultimate power to bring balance to the universe by eliminating half of life with a snap of his fingers. Now, under the guidance of his adopted daughter, Gamora, they make their way to a high mountain and are met with a surprising face, the man, the myth, the person - "Red skull". A dialogue ensues, and some iconic and daring statements are made. First, Thanos asks an innocent question, as it seems "Red skull" knows them. He asks, "Do you know us?" to which "Red skull" retorts almost immediately, "It is my curse to know all who journey here." Thanos proceeds to his objective, "Where is the soul stone?" and "Red skull" says in a solemn voice, "You should know, it extracts a terrible price" to which Thanos responds, "I am prepared." Three words that defined everything he did however sinister it was. 

Many questions ring through my mind, but one thing that is ever present is: what makes a person mentally and physically prepared for something when they don't know what to expect? That's the million-dollar question. The movie scene just recounted always puzzles me because aside from enjoying the screenplay of the movie and the stakes, I found myself confronted with the thought of life situations in general. "Red Skull" aptly plays the part of challenges and problems in our lives, and funny enough, the issues seem to know us: where we are in life, who we are, what we have been doing and ultimately, questions our ability to confront them. And it directly or indirectly cautions us before we embark on our journey of solving the challenge, "this journey will extract a price out of you. This journey will cost you something. Are you prepared for what it takes to confront me?"

And Thanos was prepared to pay the terrible price, sacrificing his daughter for his ill cause. The Avengers didn't have as fierce a resolve as Thanos did because they had never thought about that deeply. Hence, in part two, Endgame, a recurring phrase muttered by the surviving team was: "Whatever it takes." They knew what they were willing to do for the universe's sake. I am not encouraging anyone to go on a quest as Thanos did. Never! What he was ready to do and the extent of it showed the avengers that the enemy was prepared to go the extra mile for a diabolic cause. The recurring theme of the avengers was that they were known as "earth's mightiest warriors", and they failed to defend it. They need to step up.

For every student and professional, there will be challenges or problems that you will be confronted with daily. Before moving forward, ask yourself, "Are you prepared to do whatever it takes in keeping with your sound values? Are you prepared to do what is appropriate according to good morals and integrity?"

I have identified three fundamental principles that enable individuals to scale the hurdles of challenges, knowing they are prepared to do whatever it takes. And they are Will, Sacrifice, and Wisdom. These are prerequisites to confronting any hurdle in life. It can be difficult for students in their academic pursuits to navigate the burden of assignments, assessments, and personal commitments. - The starting point to begin the journey is to assess whether your will or choice is involved. Ask yourself this question:  are you studying and improving because you were told to do so? Or have you identified something (your future, family, people's needs) which has made you commit to it? That's called "the will" or, if you like, a choice. Many people go about their day without any decision or choice, no commitment to anything, so when the slightest difficulties hit, they quit or give up. And the journey ends while still being plagued by adversities and problems.

The following principle is sacrifice, which is very loaded; we need to feel the gravity of the word. It involves time, energy, and resources beyond the individual's might or known capacity. Sacrifice demands you come out of your comfort zone in the name of a noble, pure cause, a cause that will transform your life and the people around you. Sacrifice is essentially a transaction that extracts a price for something, and in the life of a student or professional, there are times when you don't feel like it. Still, the commitment or will to improve and to see others improve keeps you going and causes you to go beyond the call of duty, to give more time, energy, and resources for your future.

The final principle is wisdom, which in Greek is Sophia, and it is the application of precise knowledge. There is something you know and apply appropriately, which is called wisdom. Let me take a few minutes to explain the different levels of knowledge. For example, if someone presses your doorbell, you know someone is there, but you don't know who it is or what they want. You have knowledge that someone is there, but you are limited in the knowledge of what they want or who they are. However, when you use a "ring" doorbell or go to the door, you can decipher who the individual is or what the individual wants. That is more in-depth knowledge as you know the person's identity and what they want. That's what wisdom demands - detailed knowledge to be applied. Whatever it takes to become a professional, top-tier footballer, surgeon, engineer, artiste and many others. The wisdom to do that requires you to be abreast with the facts and armed with the knowledge to move forward. And the will and sacrifice to do so are in view as you prepare mentally and physically.