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Samurai Jack and Being Valued in Another’s Eyes} ?> Though it’s not his preference, it’s Jack’s job to live by the sword. He’s a Samurai, but he tries to complete his mission with as little violence as possible. Jack’s goal: to prevent Aku from destroying everything good in the world and save his family’s empire. However, he gives every monster and villain he faces an opportunity to repent, even letting them walk away unharmed if they do so.
It’s with this attitude that he faces Ashi, one of the Daughters of Aku who are trained as assassins to kill Jack. He treats her with compassion when she is used to a life devoid of love or kindness. She has been treated as an indistinguishable cog in a fighting machine; not cared for, not recognized for her gifts, just an agent of death used to accomplish her father’s evil plan.
During her training, little glimpses of beauty in the midst of cruelty distracted her (which she was severely punished for). What was being beat into her didn’t sit right in her heart. But it was all she knew, so she tried to be the best assassin she could be, and excelled at it.
When Jack goes out of his way to avoid killing her, even saving her life, she is surprised. As she continually tries to kill him, Jack offers her mercy, opening her eyes to a truth she had only caught glimpses of throughout her life.
Ashi can’t help but see the difference between Aku’s evil and Jack’s selfless service to the vulnerable. Truth assaults her heart, turning it away from her murderous plans and toward Jack. Because of Jack’s kindness toward her, and having observed his care for strangers, Ashi begins to see her own value in his eyes. She’s no longer a minion; she’s a free individual who has the choice to repent of her murderous actions, and to become who she wants to be—who was always inside her looking for truth. She finds a lake and scrubs off the evil that she was literally enrobed in. Like a baptism, she rejects the things that don’t belong to truth, and she changes the direction of her life. She joins Jack in his mission, and in love—something that those who shaped her never intended for her. Truth and love form her into something new.
I love this story; not just because the show’s art is some of the coolest on TV, not just because of the attractiveness of Jack’s character in his honourable quest, or the awesome martial arts. I love it because it reminds me of the truth about humanity, which is that no one is ever really lost, and that everyone is made for love and to be loved—even the spawn of evil Aku. At the end of the series, Ashi falls back under the power of Aku and is almost swallowed up by the darkness of his presence. Jack’s cry, “Ashi, fight!” recalls her to herself, and his call, “I love you!” gives her the strength to overcome that darkness. He saves her with his love, and she saves him with hers, helping him to get the upper hand and destroy Aku.
Like Ashi, I’ve felt unloveable, like my purpose is meaningless. It’s a challenge to fight the darkness of self-doubt. It’s easy for me to fall into the belief that nothing I do has value. However, God points me towards beauty and truth, desiring that I would know love. Like Ashi, I come across Jacks in my life, people who show me kindness when the darkness threatens to swallow me—a friend with a listening ear, a student from the past who expresses appreciation, my children when they are happy, little affirmations that my work and my efforts are useful to others. Surrounding myself with people who fight the skirmishes against the evils of this world inspires me to keep fighting the battles placed in my path.
When I see these glimpses of beauty, like Ashi who marvels over a ladybug and is overwhelmed by Jack’s mercy, I’m reminded I am loved, I am valued, and I have a place in this world that involves nourishing life instead of destruction.