Mark Reidy: Would I have the courage too?

18 Feb 2009

By The Record

A strange thing has happened to me recently – I have become inspired by my own inadequacy.

Tom Cruise as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg in Valkyrie.

My metamorphosis from reasonably self-assured citizen has probably been a lifetime in the making, but it became more pronounced during a recent viewing of the movie Valkyrie, the story of WWII German Colonel, Claus von Stauffenberg.
Stauffenberg was a husband and father of five children who knew that treason equated to death under Nazi rule, yet he chose to be the primary instigator of Adolph Hitler’s assassination.
Not long before the attempt, the 36-year old colonel had said that when faced with an evil regime one had to choose between action and inaction and he believed there could be only one choice. He paid for that choice with his life.
I left the cinema inspired by his courage, but there was also an itch of discomfort within me as I wondered how I would have responded in his situation.
This awareness of my shortcomings was confirmed soon after, when I read an article by an overseas Bishop, who suggested that any Christian who did not feel the pain of every single abortion, did not truly know the heart of God. Among other things, it made me realise how impassive I had become to the increasing number of children who were killed before they had even been born.
I had been able to successfully translate lives into statistics so that I could emotionally distance myself from the horrific reality.
It made me think that there was a good chance that I would have been among those in Nazi Germany who allowed themselves to be carried along by the tsunami of evil, and justified my inaction with facades of ignorance or powerlessness.
Because this is the same rationale that allows me to alienate my mind from those who die from starvation and thirst each day, those who have been traded into sexual slavery, those who are victims of abuse as well as from the plight of single mothers and fatherless children and the list goes on.
It allows me to excuse myself from the burdens of those who are suffering every day.
I can bury their existence in the deep recesses of my mind so that I do not have to deal with the reality of their pain. So why am I so inspired by this humiliating self-discovery? Because it reminds me of how much I need God. It reminds me of how my heart is hardened when I take my eyes from Him and focus only on the world around me.
It reminds me that my life will become self-absorbed if I do not continually seek to know the heart of God. But most of all, it gives me hope to know that when I am faced with the choice between action and inaction, I will know what God requires of me, and by His grace I will be able to transcend my own inadequacies.