I have to admit before I begin, I read the book before I saw the movie.
Last Friday, I took a couple of friends to see the much anticipated Lone Survivor. The movie is an adaptation of Marcus Luttrell's book about four Navy SEALS working to survive in the Mountains of Afghanistan as a Taliban army was hot on their trail.
The first half of the book takes great detail to outline what it means to train for the Navy Seals. One of America's elite special forces operation groups is shroud in intrigue. The way those guys train make most of us feel like the biggest wimps on the planet. Over and over they push their bodies, minds, and spirits to become warriors able to protect America in any circumstance. It's absolutely riveting.
The second half of the book focuses on the battle of "Murphy's Ridge" as Luttrell names it for his best muddy Mike Murphy. I won't spoil it for you, other than the book is titled LONE SURVIVOR and Luttrell is the author. So there's that!!
After the movie was over, my three friends sat in the theater until the end of the credits, just sitting in silence. Of course I don't know what they were thinking, but I was keenly focused on two elements of this amazing tale.
1.) America's Soldiers are INCREDIBLE
The way the SEALS have given their lives to serve the country is the most noble of life choices. Those guys go in places I wouldn't even dream to go, mainly because I'd probably ball up in a fetal position and cry like a baby. They take punishment like nobody else on the planet, and they keep going with a drive found deep within. (Even in the legendary training, the attrition rate of elite soldiers quitting before they finish is near 60%)
2.) War is Awful
I know war has been going on since the beginning of mankind, but I just sat and watched sacrifice after sacrifice on both sides of the rifle. People were willing to die over and over, and for what?
Sure, evil is on the planet, and I believe evil has to be stopped especially when innocent people are unable to protect themselves. But I watched as hundreds of Taliban were willing to give their lives to a cause, and the SEALS the same.
I wonder if when Jesus said, "You've heard it say to love your neighbor...but I say to you to love your enemy" He was trying to get rid of this awful practice of killing. I thought about the futures of those young men dying on the side of a mountain and wondered:
They'll never see their family again.
They'll never see their kids grow up.
They'll never have the chance to hang with their buddies.
They'll never know...well...anything for the future.
ON BOTH SIDES
And all for what?
My hope is, on the American side, we are trying to protect and preserve the innocent people in the villages who don't have the trained forces to take care of themselves.
I hope we are truly routing out the terrorists who pose a threat to the world.
And when I think about the Taliban, I wonder, "Is it really worth it?" In the name of a religious or cultural norm, they give their very lives to this evil practice of killing, raping, murdering, and stealing from their own countrymen.
One of Luttrell's biggest points is the way America keeps a watch over the Rules of Engagement. A notion I find almost absurd. How in the world are you supposed to fight IN A WAR with rules? There are no rules. People are dying right and left, and if we are going to send our boys to war, we need to let them do their job. (Although I'd prefer we find another way to solve these complicated issues.)
All in all, I recommend you go see Lone Survivor. Know before you go, there's a TON of "F-Bombs." The violence is CRAZY, as you watch every bullet enter and exit almost everyone who dies of a gunshot wound. But the more interesting part of the movie is the way it makes you think about war, about America, about people in Afghanistan, and ultimately the deep roots of brotherhood on both sides of this fight.
Redemption is a tough value to see in the midst of war. There are very rarely clear black and white sides. If you're like me, you'll be sitting in that theater chair for a while wondering, What did I just witness?
To our boys in uniform: I SALUTE YOU!! You guys are awesome!
To the politicians who send them there: I'm more skeptical than ever.