The new Marvel movie hit the theaters last week and it’s raking in the dough. Avengers: Infinity War features Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Captain America and the Hulk, matched against bad guy Thanos, and this is how it ends – C’mon, I wouldn’t do that! Instead, I’d like to tell you why you should be like my favorite character, the tree creature Groot.
You may remember Groot from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. He’s not as famous as the other Avengers, and he’s not even human. But he possesses some of the best possible human qualities without sporting any of those awkward looking tights.
Originally a bad guy from Planet X, Groot showed up on Earth to capture and study humans. But he himself was captured, and by the mentoring of Gorilla Man (?!), he became a positive force for good.
He’s been a good guy ever since, using his incredible strength to help the Guardians of the Galaxy protect Earth from a host of evil-doers. The least human superhero of all, Groot is a role model for us all.
Because of his tree-like anatomy, Groot cannot flex his larynx and talk like the other characters. So unlike the others, he doesn’t waste or mince words. No run on sentences, no blathering gossip, just direct and to the point.
In fact, he only says one thing: “I am Groot.” But he communicates everything with those three little words.
You have to know him to understand him, but friends Rocket and Star-Lord understand everything he means when he says, “I am Groot.”
We should all be as brief and concise as Groot.
Like jazz legends Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis, Groot is a virtuoso improviser. In the moment and on the spot, he does his best work. He fits his talent and skill to the situation at hand and turns in imaginative performances that delight and amaze.
When the gang needs to reach a tower, he grows himself three times his size to reach it. When they’re plunged into darkness, he sprouts hundreds of tiny luminescent spores that light the way.
When they are overrun by the enemy, Groot saves his team by sprouting a branch, lancing a dozen soldiers in a line, and whipsawing them back and forth into unconsciousness.
The breadth of his creativity is amazing. Groot never uses the same method twice to solve his team’s problems. But whenever they need a solution, he steps up to perform like a jazz soloist at the mic.
Once Groot picks a side, he stays with it through thick and thin. When he gets arrested with his friend Rocket, he could have smacked the human jailers aside and left his buddy to fend for himself. Instead, he goes to jail with his friends, protects them all, and engineers their escape.
He doesn’t look to upgrade or trade up for a better deal. With his strength and skill, he could join any gang he wanted and demand any concession they have to give.
But Groot is loyal to a fault. He accepts every new team member without reservation and gives them his wholehearted support. If you are a part of his team, he will always have your back, no matter what you look, sound, or act like.
At a critical moment when death in battle is imminent, Groot chooses to sacrifice himself so that his friends can survive. He grows himself around his team, in a protective branchy cocoon.
Rocket implores him to stop. “No, Groot! You can’t! You’ll die! Why are you doing this? Why?”
Groot does it because he is selfless. He puts the greater good above himself and demonstrates what it means to be part of a community. He is willing to sacrifice himself, knowing that in the end, his actions will lead to survival for everyone.
In doing so, he brings his team together in the strongest way possible, with a deep, compassionate philosophy he conveys by uttering the greatest line in the movie – “We are Groot.”
I challenge you to watch this and not get teary-eyed.
WE Are Groot
If we are to survive as a community, a democracy, and a civilization, we must be Groot. We must follow his lead and display our higher human qualities.
We must communicate directly and honestly.
We must improvise to create positive solutions to the problems that threaten us.
We must remain loyal to our friends, fellow humans, and other species with which we share our planet. Even when times are tough or we’re tempted by monetary gain.
And most of all, we must be willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.
Because if there’s anything I’ve learned about the human experience from sitting in a movie theater, it is this one immutable truth:
WE ARE GROOT!