As someone who goes to church I’m probably not meant to say this, but I absolutely love the film 300. A few men standing up and resisting an enemy they have no hope of defeating so that their family and friends remain safe. Yes a comedy film is good from time to time. Sometimes sci-fi can get my attention if it is done well, but there is something about seeing a hero making a stand for something they believe in.
“The world will know that free men stood against a tyrant, that few stood against many, and before this battle was over, even a god-king can bleed.”
King Leonidas in 300
Often the fighting and war can put people off films, and rightly so. We all know movies that go too far, violence for violence’s sake seems pointless to me. But this is something else. There is something about hearing the epic one-liners or the rally cry to get the group fired up which resonates with us men. It goes deeper than bare-knuckle boxing. We know this because we can feel just as fired up in films that don’t have the fighting, when people are standing up for others or protecting those they care about in other ways. People using what ever they can to take charge, rise up and change the world around them. It speaks to something inside us.
The same is true of the film Amazing Grace, when we see William Wilberforce fighting against parliament and slave owners for over a decade to abolish slavery and change the fate of millions. Or Coach Carter fighting against the status quo that says teenagers from a poor neighbourhood can’t go to university and better their lives. We see Francois Pienaar rallying the troops and lead his team to sporting greatness for South Africa and unite an apartheid-torn land. Or in Argo, when the government agent risks his life for people he has never met because they will die if they don’t get rescued.
I grew up on the Rocky films. If you ever try to get your wife or girlfriend to watch it by saying, ‘the fighting is merely an extension of dialogue’, they won’t buy it. But in some ways it is. You have a guy who wants to achieve something with his life, provide for his family, give his wife a good living, and boxing is the only way he know how do to it. He gets into the ring, gets hurt, but keeps going because he loves his wife and son. He wants to change their world.
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you’re hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward,… That’s how winning is done!”
Rocky in Rocky Balboa
In many places and contexts nowadays, if we talk about fighting for something we are imminently put down. Obviously going out on the town and fighting someone for no reason is foolish. But saying you want to fight against the part of our culture that teaches us to buy products that keep people across the globe in slavery and oppression is noble. Standing up against the porn industry because you know most of the women are trapped and being forced into it can’t be wrong, can it? Getting fired up to become a dad your sons and daughters can rely on and a husband our wives can respect by showing integrity and faithfulness is something worth fighting for.
The thing is, even though I’m not living in caves any more like my ancestors or hunting in the wastelands for my supper (thankfully), I still want to use my pent up energy for something. There is nothing wrong with us still looking at the world and wanting to make a mark. We need to be doing something otherwise we may feel like there is something missing.
So what are you fighting for?
The real question is, what do you love? We fight for the thing most important to us. We can fight for money, to improve our marriage, for more status, to improve our local community, to get more sex appeal, to help the homeless in our local shelter, to impress people, to get people in church and hear about God. What do you dedicate your time, skills and energy to? It doesn’t matter if we have a desk job or work on a building site, go to the gym every night or are overweight, are married with kids or single, we all fight for something. Let’s not shy away from the truth. The epic lines in films resonate with us because we want to be doing what they are doing. They are protecting their village from the enemy, defending the defenceless and laying down their life for a good cause.
“What we do in life echoes in eternity”
Maximus Meridius Decimus in Gladiator
In the Bible, someone called Paul heard about Jesus, a man who laid down his life for his friends so that people may realise their God is for them and with them. Paul dedicated the rest of his life, energy and time to telling people about God. One of my favourite verses in the Bible is in Acts 17, which talks about when he was telling people about Jesus, but they reacted badly and beat him so much that they thought he was dead. Then they tossed him outside of the city. He not only survived and got up, but he walked back into the city to tell them again! Now there is a man who knows what he is fighting for, there is a man who believes in something and is giving everything to it.
So what are you fighting for? I believe that we men are sometimes told too much to fall in line, deny our impulse to stand up for those around us and take the world by the scruff of the neck. Sometimes theses impulses can come out in a way that cause hurt, harm to others and selfish behaviour. But we don’t set out wanting to be people that are selfish, we don’t want to cause harm. I believe we want to be the opposite, but sometimes we forget we can do something positive and think big. Let me be clear, when I talk about fighting I do not mean cracking literal skulls, there is nothing worth killing for or causing misery for. But what would you give your life to, what would you give your life for? I don’t want to conform too much to the world around us, I don’t want to be sitting on the bench while the match is being played. Does anyone else need to hear this?
“This is what I do, I get people out and I’ve never left anyone behind.”
Mendez in Argo