Let me be candid. I did not get what I expected when I walked into one of our local theaters to see “Hacksaw Ridge.” In fact, it was not really on my radar because I read – incorrectly evidently – that it had some commonality with “Saving Private Ryan.” I will be the first to admit that I enjoy action movies and even war movies especially if there is a quality story being portrayed. Nevertheless, when it came to choosing a movie to see previously I easily chose “Rogue One” and others over this film. My candor continues as I acknowledge with gratitude one of my friends for choosing that we go see this film. It truly touched me in a way that I did not expect.
Of my posts thus far, Desmond Doss far exceeds the others as being the epitome of the UNcommon Perspective. When it came to bearing arms he did not carry a rifle out of his own person belief, yet he did not criticize others for bearing arms due to their conviction. In his desire to “give life” as a medic as opposed to “taking life” as a soldier he did not ostracize others who chose to disagree with his conviction and choose the latter. He even endured being ostracized himself as others would not give him the same courtesy as he offered them. I have a great deal to learn from his example that was portrayed on the big screen essentially as accurate as he was in real life according to those who knew him.
In my vocation I always desire and seek creative ways to communicate the gospel, so I decided to focus on the theme of “choosing life over death” by means of a series we are calling “Lessons Learned at Hacksaw Ridge.” [*Spoiler Alert* in case you decide to watch the final sermon video once it is available after January 22nd…the other two are already posted.] What cut me to the quick was a very brief scene where Desmond Doss allegedly hides in a “fox hole” that ends up being a part of the Japanese Army’s underground tunnel system. As he is trying to remain safe, he ends up next to a wounded enemy soldier and instead of putting him out of his misery, he offered gauze over the wound and morphine to dull the pain. These two men separated by language, background, and objective were able to connect ever so briefly as two humans who bear the same image. Believe me, I am still struck by the potency of this image.
It would appear that the two perspectives are either (1) choose life over death, or (2) choose death over life. Since Doss chose the former, how is it that he represents the UNcommon Perspective? How is it that he is finding the missing voice in the conversation? It is his respect for humanity and the value found within each human being that offers us a non-political and non-divisive voice that makes choosing life over death an issue of respect that unites. Regardless of faith or background, creed or color, race or religion, it would seem that there is an innate desire within humanity for respect and unity. Thus, I refer each of you to Desmond Doss who epitomized the UNcommon Perspective not through words, but through action that still resonates today.