We Were Made for This Fight

In the film Full Metal Jacket, which is set during the Vietnam War, there is a scene where a platoon of American soldiers is pinned down by a sniper. Two soldiers have already been hit. They writhe in pain, and perhaps death throes, out in the open.

The newly christened platoon leader, “Cowboy,” tells his men not to try to save the wounded men. Instead, they must hunker down behind rubble. He says, “We cannot refuse to accept the situation.”

For many years, I took his admonition—not refusing to accept the situation—as a clear-eyed call to know what is really happening. This was a lesson for us in our troubled times. Recently, however, I watched the movie again, as if with new eyes. I see now that Cowboy tells his men that they must hunker down and accept the hunkering down, that the wounded men cannot be saved, and the sniper was in charge. The key word in his admonition is to “accept.”

This comes into sharp relief when Animal Mother—strapped with ammo, slinging a massive machine gun—rejects this admonition and leaps over the rubble and charges the sniper, trying to save his brothers. He runs into the open, fully exposed to the sniper, and unloads a murderous burst from his machine gun. Animal Mother refused to accept the situation.

We live under snipers. They are everywhere, and they are gunning for us, our families, our children, our Church.

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