I recently saw Hacksaw Ridge in cinemas and if you haven’t seen it then go! Not only do I have a soft spot for war and action movies (who doesn’t?!) but I love when there is something deeper at work in a movie.
Hacksaw Ridge, starring Andrew Garfield (The better Spiderman), retells the true story of Desmond Doss, a young American who refused to carry a weapon into battle during World War II on account of his faith.
Without giving any spoilers away, Doss was at first labelled a coward and ostracised by fellow soldiers for his pacifist stance, many fearing that he would be the ‘weak link’ in the war effort; someone who couldn’t be relied on to look out for his fellow soldiers and save them when faced with enemy attack. However, Doss gains both respect and recognition when he, trained as a combat medic, rescues 75 men in the battle of Okinawa at the Maeda Escarpment (‘Hacksaw Ridge’) without firing a single shot.
Whilst Hollywood’s depiction of events, compared to that of History’s, are most likely exaggerated, inaccurate and sensational to a degree, Doss’ heroic actions remain just that: heroic and inspirational. Perhaps the most notable thing about his courageous and selfless actions are that he attributes his war effort and success to God.
In the movie, Doss is questioned as to why he won’t take up arms whilst in attendance at training camp and he responds by saying, “With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little bit of it back together…While everyone else will be taking life I’ll be saving it.”
He then follows with Scripture. Unfortunately, I am unable to find a list of verses used throughout the movie other than the one used in the opening scene. However, it reflects the attitude and character of Jesus – a lifestyle that was characterised by love, compassion, care and wanting the best for people:
29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
Is this something that I’ve known as a Christian for a long time? Absolutely. However, I still felt convicted when this quote and scripture came up. I guess I need a reminder that whilst the rest of the world is so intent on tearing itself a part I can do my bit to put it back together; whilst people are so intent on tearing each other down maybe I should focus on building people up.
I guess the reason I felt so convicted by Doss’ particular quote above is because I recognised a circumstance in which I acted differently. I was recently serving with a great group of guys and ladies on a local missions trip and we had this group chat going; we’d all make memes (those images with captions on them) of each other and send them through to the group chat in order to ‘roast’ each other and have a laugh, all of which was some light-hearted fun…until it wasn’t.
The meme I made and texted through was funny for a number of people in the group text but it left others feeling targeted, attacked and upset. At the time I didn’t see anything wrong with and saw no need to make amends. My thought process was: “If you’re going to dish it out to others then you’d better be prepared to receive it too!”
…and maybe there is some truth and legitimacy in that thought process. But! I don’t think it’s how I should have gone about the aftermath of that particular situation. After watching Hacksaw Ridge and experienced those feelings of conviction and revelation I’ve gained a new perspective.
Sure the meme roasting group text message was fun and acceptable providing everyone was having a good time and feeling okay about everything. However, as soon as someone felt vilified, targeted or upset at something it should have signified the time to draw a line, make adjustments and follow through on the wellbeing of others.
“With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little bit of it back together.”
With the world so set on tearing itself apart it seems like we, as both the human race and as Christians, have a mandate to act as Jesus did. Instead of using, abusing, accusing, defeating and degrading each other we should be intent on building each other up, apologising, encouraging, including and making amends.
Sure, as long as the joke is fun, have fun. But as soon as words and actions begin to hurt we need to address them, instead focusing our efforts on positively strengthening others and their wellbeing. After all, how you treat one person reveals to everybody how you treat the other 99. It’s time to put down the stones in our hands that are ready to be thrown and instead extend a hand to those around us and build them up (John 8:1-11).
To the great person that I hurt the other day, I apologise.