Wreck-It Ralph: What Would Happen If We All Put Others First?

Wreck It RalphBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Wreck-It Ralph is an animated movie starring the villain of the arcade game Fix-It Felix, Jr.

Ralph’s role in the game is to smash an apartment complex with his giant fists. Felix fixes Ralph’s damage using his magic hammer. If the player wins, Felix gets a medal from the Nicelanders whose building he repaired, and Ralph gets thrown off the building into a puddle of mud.

At night, when the arcade closes and the game characters can travel between games, Ralph is still shunned by the other members of his game. He’s forced to live in the garbage dump, and they don’t invite him to the 30th anniversary party for their game. The only friends he has are the other members of the villain support group he attends.

Unhappy with his life, Ralph takes off, abandoning his game. The next morning when the arcade opens, Ralph’s absence gets them an out-of-order sign and puts them in danger of being unplugged permanently. All the characters would be homeless.

Ralph’s attempt to steal his own medal results in a cyborg bug traveling from a first-person shooter game to a go-cart-racing game called Sugar Rush. The bug (like a computer virus) threatens to destroy the entire world of Sugar Rush, leaving those characters homeless as well and killing a little girl (Vanellope) who can’t leave because of a glitch in her programming.

Now two games are in jeopardy.

Vanellope steals Ralph’s already pilfered medal to use as an entry fee in a race that the other normal characters don’t want her in. Ralph accidentally sees other characters tormenting Vanellope because of her glitch and rescues her. He agrees to help her enter the race to win back the medal she stole.

And as Ralph helps Vanellope, he starts to care for someone other than himself for the first time.

When faced with sacrificing himself to save Venellope and Sugar Rush (and all the characters in it who’d been mean to them), Ralph puts their well-being ahead of his own.

With Remembrance Day (Veteran’s Day) recently past, I can’t help but think about what an admirable quality that is. We’re not all called to risk our lives for others, but we do have opportunities on a smaller scale to think about the greater good and to put others’ wishes ahead of our own.

I don’t think we should sacrifice our own desires to the point of being constantly miserable. What we want matters too, and in the movie, Ralph ends up getting his own little home and has friends the way he wanted.

But in the short term, we often need to set aside what we want and do what’s best for others. If everyone did that, the ripples would spread, and we’d all be better off.

Has there been a time when you put aside what you wanted to help someone else?

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