Culture Challenge of the Week: Indifference
What does it take to put your life on the line for others?
As Americans, we’re fascinated by sacrificial heroism, and rightfully so. Our country’s history unfolds in the tales of its heroes—and in the ten plus years since 9-11, Americans have witnessed countless acts of heroism.
From the courage of first responders who plunged into the World Trade Center’s burning corridors on 9-11 to the bravery of Seal Team Six, which delivered America from Osama Bin Laden’s malevolence, the selfless acts of others are the stories that we remember and retell.
We capture its essence in art, as in the recent movie Act of Valor. The film portrayed the exploits of Navy Seals who rescued an intelligence operative and went on to foil an imminent terrorist strike.
But the movie is more than an action flick. In one memorable scene, a Navy Seal dives on a grenade that threatens the lives of his buddies, the men he loves more than his own life. His body heaves as it absorbs the blast: he dies so that they might live. In that one moment, the film lays bare the two forces at work in any heroic deed: evil and love.
Whether a ‘natural’ evil, like a tornado or hurricane, or evil that comes from the human heart, the presence of evil calls forth sacrifice and heroism; it calls forth love. Only love defeats death-dealing evil. As Scripture tells us, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (KJV).
But what about those who live, because of another’s selfless gift of life?
Perhaps you’ve been there. The rest of us can only imagine: We’d gasp in the moment, shocked and in awe at the whisker-close brush with death and the enormity of the other’s sacrifice. We would know life as a gift in a way we never previously experienced it. Even as spectators in a movie theatre, watching the on-screen peril and loss, we can’t help but feel pierced by our own unworthiness and helpless to communicate our gratitude. And we’d be horrified to see anyone shrug off such sacrifice, whether in callous indifference (“So what?”) or in arrogant expectation (“I deserve to live more than he did!”).
Surely, we’d find ourselves thinking, “Wow. He gave his life for me. How can I ever repay him?”