10 Life Lessons From “Guardians of the Galaxy”

guardian-of-the-galaxy-poster1Sure, some people may think it’s a little odd to turn to fiction to gain life lessons about reality. But, keep in mind; the people writing the fiction are drawing on their own lives for material.

On top of that, it’s usually easier to learn important lessons when they’re a few times removed from our own lives – that way the tough ones sting a little less.

Before continuing, I should note, this is a spoiler alert warning. There are spoilers throughout this article. There’s really no choice.

And, I must ask: “if you haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy: What are you waiting for?” It’s a fantastic film.

Seriously. Fantastic.

Here’s what you need to do. Click “Print,” tuck this article into your back pocket, go right now to see the movie, and when you come out of the theater afterward, pull the article back out.

Seriously. Do it.

The film is packed with life lessons. Some of them are straight forward and some of them are more metaphorical – simultaneously pleasing Star Lord and confusing Drax. This isn’t an attempt to find the most important of the life lessons in Guardians of the Galaxy, I”m just writing about the ones that stuck out to me.

 

1) A little can say a lot.

You know those people who just go on and on about something? Groot (flora colossus from Planet X – basically a walking, talking tree) is the opposite of that. Groot says, “I am Groot.”

And that’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.

“I. Am. Groot.”

It’s great to learn you don’t always have to say a lot to mean a lot.

I know folks who really need to learn this lesson.

It’s also a lesson that repeating the same thing over and over again is annoying.

Stop it.

 

2) Music is powerful.

Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star Lord, is practically transported by music.

Near the beginning of the movie, while in the midst of a desolate landscape in a rodent infested ruin, he pops on the earphones of a Walkman, circa 1980s, and, with the tunes blaring. After popping on the earphones, Star Lord practically skips through the threatening darkness.

At the end of the movie, facing near certain death, after having just escaped near certain death, Peter does a little song and dance – and it saves them.

Part of music’s power comes from the way it strengthens us by its connection to our memories. Peter’s music connected him to his mom. So, part of music’s power is that it keeps us grounded and connected with the things that really matter.

Things like: joy, love and hope.

“O-o-h child things are gonna get easier. O-o-h child things’ll get brighter.”

 

3) You don’t have to agree on everything in order to work together.

In the United States, we’ve become so divided that it frequently feels like our nation has completely stagnated.

It seems that if we disagree with someone about one thing, we’ve gotten to the point that we won’t work with them on anything.

The Guardians start off in great disagreement. It’s a disagreement about little things really – like who gets to capture Peter and the curious orb he found, and collect the bounty.

Ultimately, they all come together in spite of their differences and save the universe.

They come together because of two things. One: enduring difficulties together. Two: having a higher common goal.

I wonder when we are going to finally learn this on in the U.S.?

We certainly have endured difficulties together and if restoring the reality of the American Dream isn’t a higher common goal, I don’t know what is.

 

4) Most of our biases aren’t about reality. They are about ignorance.

A few of the team members refer to Rocket, who is a genetically manipulated raccoon with superior intelligence, as a “rodent” or something similar.

In short order, after getting to know him, they are quickly coming to his defense.

Life is a lot like that. Reality breaks down our ignorance.

Isn’t it funny how seeing a person for who they really are instead of seeing them as a stereotype we’ve painted in our heads can help us treat them with more care?

No. You are right. That’s not funny at all.

Let’s just jump right to the part where we treat people kindly.

 

5) Dancing is one of the best things ever.

According to Peter Quill, Kevin Bacon taught an entire town of people with sticks up their butts that dancing is the greatest things there is.

Personally, I’d add that part of the reason it’s so great is that it requires music and music is powerful (see #1).

And don’t forget, when faced with death (after surviving death), Peter survived yet again by dancing and singing.

Too frequently, we focus on the darkness and difficulties. Sometimes, in order to find positives, the joy, we have to first put it into practice.

So . . . cut loose, footloose. Kick off the Sunday shoes.

 

6) “I was a fool. All the anger, all the rage, was just to cover my loss.” – Drax

Enough said.

 

7) Love grows.

Groot, the flora colossus from Planet X, is a symbol of love in the movie.

He’s even willing to knowingly sacrifice himself to save his friends, and is broken into hundreds of splinters and stems.

It’s important to note: this is not a “redemptive suffering” kind of sacrifice. There’s nothing redemptive about suffering.

Groot, knew that this wasn’t the end.

Much like with love, when you plant Groot – it grows.

 

8) “Life is giving us a chance” – Star Lord

“To do what?” – Drax

“To give a shit about something other than ourselves.” – Star Lord

I might have put it a bit more delicately, but, seriously . . . why?

 

9) There are things in life that are too big to handle on our own.

A big part of the storyline of the film involves a very powerful stone. It’s so powerful that most beings simply cannot deal with it by themselves. If they try, it overwhelms them.

We all have things in life that can overwhelm us.

In the movie, our heroes figure out how to deal with the power of the stone by joining hands together and sharing the burden.

In life, those who join with us to help us bear our burdens are our heroes.

That’s a life lesson: things that overwhelm us are best taken on with the help of others.

 

10) Like it or not, we are in this thing called life together.

Near the end of the movie, after the Guardians had become community, after they had overcome some very large differences, just as Groot was about to sacrifice himself for the sake of his friends, instead of saying, “I am Groot,” he says, “We are Groot.”

What impacts one of us, impacts all of us.

 

 
 

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About Mark Sandlin

Mark is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) from the South. He is a co-founder of The Christian Left. His blog, The God Article, was recently named as one of the “Top Ten Christian Blogs.” He also writes for "The Huffington Post" and "Sojourners." He’s married to an amazing Baptist minister and has two fabulous teenagers. More than anything (other than peace and justice), Mark wants to have a beverage in one hand and a book in the other as he and his wife look across the shores of Ocracoke, NC.


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