Destiny vs. Willpower in Shounen Heroes

Destiny vs. Willpower in Shounen Heroes

John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30. I know Him because I am from Him and He sent me

For those reading the One Piece manga (don’t worry, no spoilers!), it is evident that we are at the final stages where Luffy is taking huge steps towards his dream of being the Pirate King. The recent chapters have made fans reflect: is One Piece about a story of destiny, a “chosen one” saving the world; or is it about the story of personal agency and willpower, a commoner going against odds to realize his dream? (I recall watching a One Piece YouTuber Mr. Morj discussing this topic.)

I’m not necessarily saying that the shounen hero archetype should be applied to Jesus, but I’d like to reflect on how His being human allows us to make sense of destiny versus agency.

Manifesting a desired goal requires a total buy-in from the doer, as well as huge amounts of “luck” going one’s way. In this sense, this mysterious luck seems to parallel God’s will, because only He can influence what we could not.

Suffering and challenges are mainstay tensions in the story of life. They are not necessarily punishment; they are mere unfortunate elements of our journey.

Thus, to be whole and authentic and to flourish requires alignment with God’s will (destiny) and willpower (agency). It’s not an easy task; it’s a road filled with suffering and challenges. In a sense, one cannot blame another for seeking a more comfortable life.

But isn’t it more exciting and adventurous for us to choose to fulfill our destiny? Be it in the story of Luffy or the passion of Christ, my insight on destiny is that it is not a linear and comfortable journey. Fulfilling one’s destiny is not necessarily a given.

And maybe this is why it is about the journey, not the destination. The journey is what makes us human, and the destination is an inspiration of tasting a bit what it means to be divine.


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