My friend Keith and I went to see American Sniper a couple of weeks ago. I know it is a controversial film. Difficult to watch. I heard myself moan, “oh no!” a few times.
If you are wondering…yes, overall, I liked the movie. But, I like movies that challenge me, especially my worldview. This movie does that.
I have read a few things online about the movie. Some say it’s not reality. Doesn’t portray the Iraqi people or Muslim faith in a fair light. Never talks about the shortcomings of the American soldiers and government. Debate over if it is a pro-war or anti-war movie.
I understand these viewpoints or questions, but my mind gravitated to a another theme.
The tension between being a family man doing life in suburban America and being a soldier while his peers fought and died in a foreign country for a cause he believed in with every fiber of his body.
“There is a war going on. People are dying. And I am going to the mall.”
That’s what the main character, Chris Kyle, bemoans while driving down the highway just moments before his wife goes into labor with their first child.
How does a person handle this tension? At home he is with his family, but he can’t embrace the peace, the comforts, the security. It doesn’t seem right with what he knows is going on in Iraq.
Yet when he is in Iraq away from his family, he feels the pull to be back home with them.
Even though I never served in the military, I do understand the tension.
I am a missionary at heart.
How is that similar?
When Danielle and I moved back to the U.S. after living in Thailand for six months doing volunteer mission work, we experienced reverse culture shock.
We were like Chris Kyle. Sometimes we just sat and stared at the wall. Things about the American lifestyle irritated us. We felt like we didn’t belong here or there.
I wondered why I was born in a free and affluent country, growing up in a family with a Christian heritage, with all of my physical needs met. Compared to the rest of the world, we all are wealthy or at least have the opportunity to meet our needs. We have the freedom to move, to seek whatever kind of work interests us, to worship freely.
I have been blessed with all this and more while people around the world spend their days struggling to find enough food to feed their family or enough clean water to survive. Many live in oppressive societies with little or no freedom. Millions have never even heard the gospel.
And I am going to the mall.
Even though we have been back for a little over seven years, it has taken us awhile to navigate the tension. I am not so sure though that I have grown apathetic and self-serving just like most around me.
We need to learn how to live in a way that recognizes how to “save” those right here. Right where we live, while still finding a way to influence or impact those in other parts of the world.
So, yes, while I can’t relate to everything that Chris Kyle faced as a soldier, I can relate to the tension of living a life of comfort as if there is not a war going on.