Haven’t done a post talking about pacifism for awhile. Here ya go!
I love superhero movies. I’m not as greatly dedicated as some of my comic book friends out there, who know story lines, villains, and the names of every woman Tony Stark has slept with, but I know enough about them to really get into it whenever I go see one (even if you aren’t into comic books at all, the movies they’ve been producing, and by they I mean Marvel, are excellent). This Saturday I got to go see Captain America, and, naturally, I loved it.
I wanted to talk about some of the things I drew from it. It seems a little odd that a guy like me, who loathes violence and blind patriotism, should have fun seeing a movie about a super hero who is more or less a poster boy for both in the eyes of some. While I’m not trying to steal from Josh Dies post on the same subject, which I’ve put up here three times now, Captain America isn’t just some idiot meathead who showed up at the recruiting office stammering out, “I wanna kill Nazis.” In fact, when asked if he wants to kill Nazis, he says, “I don’t want to kill anyone, but I don’t like bullies.”
Point #1: No one, even pacifists, likes to let a bully continue in his action. I freakin’ loved this line so much I wanted to start cheering immediately, but in the confines of a matinee showing, most of the people there might not have shared my enthusiasm. It’s true: we all hate bullies, especially me. But how does someone go about stopping bullies when they’ve decided that God does not approve of the use of violence? Well, we try not to react with fear, but with rationality. We try to see matters from the attackers point of view (this may not always apply in some cases). We’ll make it clear that we are not to be treated as subhuman, and that we will not stoop to a level of violence, but also that the individual in question is better than what they have become. While Captain America used violence to stop a bully who had lost his mind, I might not opt to do the same (then again, I’m not running out to join the Army like he did, either).
One of the things that astounded me about Steve Rodgers (Captain America) was his heart. The guy, at the start of his story, weighs all of 98 lbs., and has a lot of health issues that keep getting him labelled 4-F, or unfit for military service. Still, he keeps going to different states under a different name and hometown trying to enlist. Even when he gets to join up through the Super Soldier Program, the senator who funds it makes him into a mascot for the war bond program. He still keeps standing by his principles, being patriotic not because he loves everything his country does, but because he wants to change things about it and make it a better place, along with the rest of the world.
Point #2: Patriotism isn’t blindly loving your country; it’s loving it so much that you hate the evil things it does enough to want to change it. With this perspective, every protester, every resister, is very much a patriot. I’ll even call myself one, though America always takes a backseat to the kingdom of God. You might never hear me say the Pledge of Allegiance, but you will hear me pray for soldiers overseas and for the president to make wise decisions. Let me put it this way: when you love someone, you don’t allow them to do things that hurt themselves, so why would you let your country do that? Why would you let it support corporations that don’t care for their workers, or that use child labor? Why would you let it make bombs that kill more innocent civilians than they do enemy soldiers? Why would you let it harm the earth that it’s built upon, that there won’t be a future for if we continue acting as we do? That’s not love; that’s blind ignorance. Love calls a nation out on its wrongs that it might be a better place to live.
That’s the kind of country Captain America stands for: one where its citizens stand up and call it out on the wrongs its committed. Yes, he is a poster-boy for patriotism, but it’s the kind of patriotism that shows true love for others.
That’s why I loved this movie. It’s pretty awesome. I highly recommend you go see it. :)
Also, another interesting perspective on the film can be found here at Theology21. Enjoy!