Last night I watched one of my favorite movies, The Last Samurai. This movie portrays several conflicting views of life and death. The main character begins the movie not caring about either one; he can’t live with himself and the things he has done, yet he won’t give up the fight. He seeks death in battle yet he fights so valiantly that he continues to survive. In the end he learns that there are truly some things worth dying for, and he fights a battle against any odds of winning, not just to throw himself into the battle and die, not in order to win the battle, but simply because the cause was worth dying for.
As I watched the movie I was reminded that I am not in this world to win. It doesn’t matter whether I win or even excel at anything I do, whether it be martial arts, writing, or teaching. I don’t have to come out on top; I don’t have to have anyone acknowledge my accomplishments; none of that matters at all. I must do what I do because it is right. I vote for a candidate because it is right, not because he has a chance to win. I spar my best no matter what the outcome of the match, because it is right, not because I might win. I teach because I am called to teach, whether my students are brilliant or not. I write because I must write, whether it ever gets published or not.
The end does not justify the means; the means are everything. This life is not about winning or losing, it’s about how and why you are playing. Life is not about living or dying, it’s about the purpose behind our living and our dying. There is something bigger than my own life going on here, and that is what I want to plug into. That is what I want to live for. That is what I want to die for.
Philippians 1:20-27 – I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body…Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…
Rebecca A Givens, 03/17/08