Things That War Heroes Yell


Mel Gibson made some great movies before he went off the deep end. Really great movies, ones that I still have on VHS. Maybe that’s why he started acting all crazy, who knows. Perhaps the pressure to make even better movies finally got to him. After all, five Lethal Weapon movies is impressive, it’d be pretty frustrating to try and think of a sixth story-line.

One of my favorite Mel Gibson movies is ‘The Patriot’. It’s in my all time top five for sure, sandwiched between ‘Willow’ and ‘Jurassic Park’. ‘Jurassic Park’ is number one, in case you had any doubts.  ‘The Patriot’ is a movie about the revolutionary war, told through the eyes of a war hero turned farmer, turned war hero again.

One particular scene has always caught my attention. It’s towards the end of the movie, the last battle in fact. America is on the brink of winning its freedom thanks in large part to the efforts of Mel Gibson and buddies in the militia. As the English begin to advance on their position, prospects of winning the war begin to look bleak. Mel Gibson’s friends are frightened. In fact, they’re so frightened that they decide they should just run away, retreat, to go to a place where they know they’ll be safe.

But Mel Gibson has other ideas. After all, he was once a war hero before he became a farmer, and this is the part in the movie where he must become a war hero again. As his comrades retreat, he grabs an unattended American flag, the old one, with only 13 stars on it. And instead of moving backwards, he takes a step forward, and then begins to run directly towards the opposition, waving the flag and yelling things that war heroes yell. Upon seeing this, the rest of the guys are either inspired by his courage or embarrassed about being so afraid and running away. Either way, they decide to turn around and join him in the fight. Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, America wins.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that scene lately. I’ve been thinking about freedom and direction and moving backwards. I’ve also been thinking about possible Lethal Weapon 6 story-lines, and frankly, it is quite frustrating.

I think we all want to be free. And to a certain degree we are. I mean we can vote and wear anything we want, even start a business if that’s what interests us. And while we’re all tremendously grateful for that kind of freedom, I think deep down, we’re all searching for a different kind of freedom. I know I am. We’re looking for a freedom to be ourselves, to go to the places we really want to go and become the people we really want to be; the kind of freedom that allows us to come out of hiding and live up to all that potential we’ve heard about.

I used to think of freedom as a journey, and I suppose it is. But it’s not the kind of journey that I imagined, not the kind I wanted. I expected a nice, safe journey with blankets and Miles Davis music. I expected a comfortable journey, with God, who surely wouldn’t let me face anything scary. My experience has been different though. I’m learning that freedom is a fight we must face, an opposition we must run towards.

See, freedom is just on the other side of the opposition, it’s just beyond the things we’ve been too afraid to face, the things that tie us down.

But moving forward is tough. Grabbing the flag and running in the direction of guns and other scary stuff isn’t as glorious as Mel Gibson made it seem at the theater. It’s hard work, every day. It’s a decision, every day.

Some days I think maybe Mel Gibson’s friends had it right. Sometimes it seems like retreating is the better option, that maybe freedom is found away from the scary stuff, where I’m comfortable. Some days I yearn to go back, I crave the comfort that I’ve known so well. But with each step back, the less freedom I feel. The burden that was lifted starts to feel heavy again.

So maybe it’s time to decide to not go back anymore. Maybe it’s time to decide that no matter how appealing the comfort sounds, or how safe it seems back there, moving forward is a better option. A life out of the shadows is more promising.

The cool thing about God is, He wants us to be free. In fact, He created us to be free. And if we’ll let Him, He’ll help us move forward. With His help, every day we can pick up the flag and run a new direction. We can run towards the opposition, in the direction of all the things that hold us back, yelling things that war heroes yell. Freedom is on the other side.

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Categories: A First Faint Gleam

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