After months of watching my Tumblr feed blow up with “Doctor Who”-related posts, I finally decided to start watching it this past November, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite shows. If you’ve never seen it, you’re missing out on some great television for a number of reasons (Time-travel! Sonic screwdrivers! Aliens! Daleks! David Tennant!), but mostly because I’ve noticed some great parallels between the show and the goal of the So Worth Loving movement.
My favorite thing about “Doctor Who” is The Doctor himself, as he possesses many wonderful and enviable traits, including but not limited to his spirit of adventure and his wide-eyed wonder at every new thing he encounters. An episode in season five that I recently watched, though, illustrates marvelously my favorite quality about The Doctor. He and his companion, Amy, travel back to 19th century Holland to visit Vincent van Gogh after viewing his works in a Paris museum and seeing something unsettling in one of his paintings: a monster in a church window. When The Doctor and Amy reach their destination, poor Vincent is distraught; he is struggling to believe that his work is any good, and he is being hunted by a creature that only he can see.
Long story short, The Doctor, Amy, and Vincent put an end to that creature after cornering it in a church (the same church in that painting that The Doctor and Amy saw in present-day Paris). The Doctor and Amy even take Vincent to that Paris museum to show him that one day, his paintings would be widely-loved and that his name would be one of the greatest in the art world. Vincent returns to 1800s Holland feeling better about his life and his work.
Amy hopes that their encounter with Vincent would re-write history by inspiring him to paint hundreds of more works. The Doctor knows that’s not how time-travel works, though. They go back to the museum, but there are no more van Gogh works hanging on the walls than there were before they traveled back in time. Amy is devastated, saying “we didn’t make a difference at all.”
To which The Doctor, ever optimistic and wise, replies:
“I wouldn’t say that. The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. Good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa: the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant.”
He then turns to that painting of the church and tells Amy, “We definitely added to his pile of good things. If you look carefully, maybe we did indeed make a couple of little changes.” They look closely at the painting and—surprise—the monster that was in the church window before they visited Vincent is gone! This difference, however small, is good enough for The Doctor.
You see, The Doctor is basically humanity’s biggest cheerleader. He is unwavering in his conviction that each and every person, despite their imperfections, can do extraordinary things and make a difference in someone’s life or even in the course of history.
Everybody serves a purpose. Everybody has the potential for extraordinary things.
Nobody is unimportant to him. He just believes in people and wants to see them be magnificent.
The ability to travel through time and space in a phone booth, the whole premise of “Doctor Who,” is fantasy, of course (much to the dismay of many Whovians). But the character of The Doctor—his optimism and hope, his beliefs about people—makes “Doctor Who” one of the most important shows that I’ve come across recently, because The Doctor’s mindset doesn’t have to be fantasy. In fact, it shouldn’t be fantasy. It shouldn’t be reserved for a fictional character. I think all of us—Whovians and non-Whovians alike—could stand to be a little bit more like The Doctor. We need to believe that people are good even when we’ve been hurt or when being cynical is easier, because being happy sure beats being bitter. We need to encourage and forgive people instead of judge them, because it’s how we would want to be treated if we hit hard times.
And we need to believe that we’re capable of mighty things, even if they’re small, because we never know who our actions could help. We need to believe that we’re important because we all have something—talents, values, character traits—that the world needs.
Who says that television is a waste of time?
What about you? Have you come across any characters in TV shows, movies, books, etc. that have taught you some important lessons in empowerment and self-love? Feel free to share in the comments!
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