Lessons From…Marco Polo

So I binged on the Netflix series Marco Polo last Saturday. It was actually rather good. And is probably the only American series I can name in which there are more non-white characters/actors than white ones. This obviously is not necessary for a show to be good, but it is a nice change of pace from the usual. I highly recommend watching the series particularly for the next few lessons to fully make sense. As always SPOILERS ahead.

It is getting harder to come up with captions for this thing.

It is getting harder to come up with captions for this thing.

Alright, so the first thing that I wish to discuss is one of the core themes of the series which also serves as the perfect first lesson: Fear and Respect a man with an unshakable vision. There is nothing more dangerous or worthy. Obviously, the man that immediately comes to mind, assuming, you are familiar with the story of Marco Polo, is Kublai Khan. It makes sense. The Khan is a man with a clear vision; he will rule the world. It is his destiny. He is so devoted to his vision that he inspires those around him. His loyal court, Polo included, are so mesmerized by the Khan’s aspirations that they are willing to devote their lives in service to that dream. The mark of a true leader and visionary is found in the quality of followers he brings along with him..Considering the actions of his servant, Yusuf, Khan was a great leader.

Yup, the man is full of wisdom and is pretty good with a sword.

Yup, the man is full of wisdom and is pretty good with a sword.

At some point in the series, Yusuf, one of Kublai Khan’s trusted advisers and council, sacrifices himself and his honor for the sake of the empire and Khan’s vision. He basically takes the blame for an act of treason in order to ensure that Marco (who is also innocent of the crime) can aid his chosen leader. Yusuf knows the consequences of his actions and still chooses the path of self-destruction for the glory of his Khan. Khan also was fully aware of Yusuf’s innocence and understood why Yusuf was acting in the manner he was. In a sense, both men committed ultimate sacrifices in service to a grander vision; Yusuf his life and Kublai one of the few men he could call friend. This brings us to the next lesson: All advances require sacrifice. Be mindful of that and willing to let go.

There is one final lesson to be derived from this stellar show: There is power in the creation of a legacy and legend. The world knows the names of Marco Polo and Kublai Khan. They will live for ages beyond their deaths and their adventures influenced the history of the world. Both these men had certain perspectives and ideas about themselves which drove them to the great heights of success, with a few depths of failures to add to it. They wanted to change the world and to make sure that they left a mark after their demise.

Such men and events lead one to question the possible existence of destiny and fate and begin to spout nonsense of similar sorts. This are simply the invention of the witnesses who cannot understand how any one man could do the extraordinary actions they saw. History has been written by those arrogant enough to think they can be its author and foolish enough to actually try.

Thus endeth today’s lesson. Also go watch Marco Polo. It’s all on Netflix.

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