I recently went to the theater to see Hacksaw Ridge with my husband.
I should preface this article by saying that Hacksaw Ridge’s R rating is well-earned – gory, violent war scenes left me with my eyes closed for much of the movie.
However, the movie also held an extraordinary message that I absolutely loved.
Hacksaw Ridge tells the true story of PFC Desmond Doss, an American soldier who served in WWII. Doss entered the army as a medic because he wanted to save lives rather than take them; he also was a conscientious objector and refused to carry a gun.
As you can imagine, a soldier who refuses to carry a gun will not be very popular in the barracks. Doss was quickly branded a coward, and ostracized and abused by his fellow soldiers for his pacifist stance. His commanding officers even tried (unsuccessfully) to get him kicked out of the army.
In the Battle of Okinawa, however, Doss showed his true colors.
After his division had retreated from the ridge, he worked tirelessly through the nights to save men who had been injured and left behind during the previous day’s fighting.
By the end of the battle, Desmond Doss had risked his own life over and over again to save 75 men – without firing a single shot.
Doss became the first conscientious objector to win the congressional medal of honor, for service above and beyond the call of duty.
His story is wonderfully inspiring, but not because he was a particularly impressive person. He didn’t have a lot of money or charisma or connections. He was, in fact, quite ordinary.
The thing that set Desmond Doss apart was that he held fast to his convictions.
He knew what he was meant to do, and he continued pursuing that goal, despite all obstacles and nay-sayers.
I love Desmond Doss’ story because it is inspiring. But I also love his story because it is relatable. He was simply an ordinary person – just like you or me. To me, that says that his story is not some improbable tale to admire but never aspire to.
Rather, it should serve as an encouragement that we, too, can achieve great things with our quite ordinary lives. Just like Desmond Doss.
We all have things that we’re passionate about that have been dismissed by the masses. For many of us, following our convictions will not lead to nearly as dramatic a story as Desmond Doss’; however, the principle is the same.
Studies have found that the vast majority of people will intentionally give the wrong answer on a test, simply because everyone else is also saying the wrong answer.
Desmond Doss would not have been one of these people. He marched to his own drum; he knew what mattered to him, and he pursued it wholeheartedly, no matter what other people said. In the end, his incredible convictions, his unswerving commitment to do what was right, saved the lives of 75 men.
I wonder how many more lives would be changed if, like Doss, we all started holding fast to our convictions. If we marched to our own drum, rather than parroting the answers the world tells us to.