Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra boast huge numbers of benders. But what about the triumphs of the non-benders?
Non-benders are the heart and soul of the Avatar universe. They are the majority. They bear the burden of constantly needing to prove themselves worthy of being equals in the eyes of benders. Whether or not they are willing to admit it, all benders suffer from some elitism. Legend of Korra took that very issue and placed it at the center of Book One’s story. Though the leaders of the Equalist group had less than ideal intentions, the message boils down to this — non-benders deserve some respect.
Avatar and Korra both tell complex and beautiful stories, but often the non-benders are overshadowed by the awesome choreography and skill of the Avatar and other element benders. It’s high time for some non-bender appreciation!
Bold statement time, Sokka is the non-bender every non-bender should strive to be. He is intelligent, great with a boomerang, humble, and, best of all, he kept the team on schedule when a comet was threatening to give the Fire Nation enough power to take over the world. Sure, he may be the butt of the jokes more often than not, but can you really blame a guy who has to work twice as hard to fight at the same level as his friends for being hungry all the time?
Sokka is not afraid to let those around him know when he is feeling under-utilized. Rather than being looked upon as a sign of weakness, it is the source of his strength. His resolve to help his sister and friends in battle never falters. While he may have some trouble getting his ideas to translate from his head to the page, Sokka is a born strategist. After all, he had to grow up in the company of benders who could manipulate the natural world with a flip of their hand.
From a young age Sokka shouldered the responsibilities of his tribe to train the next generation of the Southern Water Tribe forces. His military training may not have been complete and he may have failed at every single training task in the presence of the sword master Piandao, but he did so in ways that were so creative that it only made sense that his spirit of uniqueness live on in the sword he forged himself. Reminds us of another certain someone in Team Avatar 2.0.
Suki and the Kyoshi Warriors
You do not want to cross this band of female warriors fighting together in honor of Avatar Kyoshi. Not just anyone can be admitted to this elite fighting team. Armed with their metal fans, the warriors do not need any bending assistance to bring down a formative opponent. Though the small group first dedicated their services to preventing small crimes in and around Kyoshi Island, they set their sights on a greater purpose, offering aid to the Earth Kingdom during the 100 years war.
These warriors could easily sell their services to the highest bidder, but they understand the pain and suffering of those who have no one to fight for them. Rather than watch the world sometimes literally burn down around them, these non-benders get justice for those who do not have a fair shot.
The first born son of Avatar Aang was not exactly what the last airbender was expecting in a child. When you name someone after your crazy childhood best friend, what else can you expect? It was Aang’s hope to continue the Air Nation’s linage by passing his bending abilities onto a new generation. But Bumi did not turn out to inherit the airbending ability. In fact, he inherited no bending whatsoever. Did Bumi sit around and cry about it? No.
Bumi went on to be a Commander of the United Forces. His many battles required quick thinking and MacGyver-like maneuvering that often make Bumi’s tales sound far-fetched. But how else can you present a victory that took more than producing a burst of fire from one’s palm. Soldiers respected, admired, and put their trust in General Bumi.
Who else would sacrifice himself to tackle an evil spirit off of a flying bison? His flare for the dramatic often costs him the patience of those around him. But their lives are better for it.
Sure, EVERYTHING CHANGED WHEN HARMONIC CONVERGENCE HAPPENED, but that does not discredit Bumi’s long career before bending became a part of his life.