A Note From The Administrators: This is the first installment of a six-part series in which each administrator will discuss one of the six words found in the Winston Churchill quote below. Enjoy.
All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.
Kiss the Ring
Remember when Mel Gibson William Wallace let out that huge scream at the end of ‘Braveheart’? Of course you do. You probably even remember where you were, how it made you feel, and how over-priced that small popcorn was. I remember where I was when I first saw it. You see, when the movie first came out, I was just a small chap. 10-years-old to be exact. And ‘Braveheart’ contained a number of things that 10-year-olds aren’t supposed to see. Things like beheadings and guys getting hit with axes; there may have even been a boob. Plus, at 10 years of age one can’t really appreciate the true concept of the movie, what William Wallace was fighting for, and why he screamed it so loud at the end. You have to be at least 12 to understand those things.
I was pretty angry that the hero of the movie was about to be killed. After all, I’d been watching him for like four hours, so he was essentially my brother at this point. And I was pretty upset with Robert the Bruce also, because he was a traitor and his beard was too black to be natural. I know his father was demanding and had leprosy and all, but come on man, we all have stuff to deal with. After several wooden torture machines, I just wanted it to be over. My 12-year-old eyes had seen too much, and this was my brother they were treating this way. I pleaded with him in my living room, “just kiss the ring!”. All he had to do was say that the king was awesome and that England was pretty in the springtime and it would all stop! All the knives, the ropes, whatever they were doing to his liver, it would all stop! Just say it! But he refused. Then the crowd grew quiet as Mel saved up his breath, and with one last gasp he yelled, “Freeeeeedooooooom!” And he was free.
As the Scottish music began to play, chills went down my spine and a few tears may have filled my eyes. And there’s no shame in crying, especially when there’s Scottish music playing. You could play Scottish music during halftime of a basketball game and I would probably get a little emotional. I wished I had seen it when I was 10.
I was flipping through the channels the other night, and like most nights, ‘Braveheart’ was on TNT. I didn’t have five hours to spare at the time, but just seeing the name of the movie took me back to that scene. It made me think about freedom. You see, to some, freedom was just a dream. But to William Wallace, it was a decision. And I think every day we have the opportunity to make that same decision.
So what does freedom mean to you? Because in order to be willing to fight for it, it has to mean something to us, right? Maybe for you freedom is not having to work, or maybe working a more flexible schedule. Maybe it’s winning the lottery and not having to worry about money anymore. Maybe freedom to you is vacations and cruise ships and nobody telling you what to do. And all of these things are great, and certainly offer a degree of freedom. But they’re not really worth fighting for, are they? What I mean is, if someone was using wooden torture machines on you, you’d probably give all those things up pretty quickly, even the money. We’re all rational people, we realize that life is more important than money and being able to take off work when you want to.
But what if there was another kind of freedom? One that was worth fighting for. Would you be willing to fight? I believe there’s a different kind of freedom available to us every day, the freedom to be who we were created to be, and it’s one worth fighting for.
To long for freedom, we first must feel the opposite, which is some type of oppression. After all, the oppressive acts of the English that William Wallace witnessed ultimately led him on his (and Scotland’s) journey to freedom. Had the English not been so cruel, he would have probably just been a farmer and Mel Gibson wouldn’t be so famous. Something has to bother us enough to motivate us to break out.
So what’s that one thing that oppresses you? Hopefully it’s not a large group of English soldiers. Maybe it’s that nagging little voice in your head, the one that tells you that you can’t do it, that you’ll probably screw up again, or that people will laugh. Or maybe it’s an insecurity that you can’t let go of, that you’ve never been able to let go of. Or perhaps your past is too dark, you’ve made too many mistakes and let down too many people. Whatever it is, it’s a prison that keeps us from becoming who we were meant to be. And freedom lies on the other side.
I like to think of that nagging little voice in my head as the guy who tortures William Wallace at the end of the movie. The guy in the red retro hoodie who keeps pleading with Mel to kiss the ring. His promise is comfort; he’ll make everything go away if we just give up a little bit of freedom. So we’re faced with a choice: fight or give in, again.
I think it’s time to stop giving in. It’s time to stop kissing the ring. Because if we really want to become the people we were created to be, the best versions of ourselves, we have to fight, we can’t keep giving in to all those things that oppress us. Every day we have to put on our plaid kilts and blue face paint and get ready for a battle. We have to fight for who we really want to be and what we really want to do with our lives. Because that little voice is going to keep chirping, telling us that we can’t and we won’t. He’ll keep telling us that everything will be more comfortable if we just go back to doing the things we used to do, that all the pain will stop if we just kiss the ring. But we’ll never know true freedom if we give in. Freedom’s not a dream. Those things you want to do, that person you want to be, those aren’t dreams either. It’s a choice, one that we get to make every day. Choose freedom.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32