The Ultimate Question

Sometimes you can glean a little wisdom from the most random of places.  Movies, especially the ones today that are mostly just popcorn entertainment rarely have anything to offer but that rule is violated on occasion.  Every now and then a line or two of dialogue becomes embedded in the public storehouse of adages worth remembering.  If you ever saw Gone With the Wind then you certainly remember well when Rhett Butler, in spite of his faults, was rightly finally totally exasperated with Scarlett.  Her selfishness knew no bounds or limits.  The world turned around her at least in her estimation.  They relationship closed with him telling her “Madam, frankly I don’t give a damn”.  Of course uttering those words was quite scandalous at the time and the expletive received more attention than the content of the message.  Even though Scarlett had endured hardships and pulled herself up her basic character never changed and the world was all about her.  It was time that someone finally told her they didn’t care anymore about her world.

On a lighter vein we recall the famous scene in Casablanca when the French policeman portrayed so well by Claude Rains when he is confronted by the German officer that illegal activities were taking place at Rick’s.  Rick’s was the nightclub owned by Bogart and had a “secret” but well-known gambling casino in the back.   The French officer was in the place all the time and knew Rick well and was quite aware of the gambling but he managed with great aplomb to respond to the German with feigned innocence that he was “shocked, shocked” to learn  of gambling at Rick’s.  Just like we guys are shocked to learn that women love to buy shoes for some arcane reason to us.   Equally memorable was Rick’s comment when asked by the Rains why he had come to Casablanca in the first place.  Rick quipped quickly that he came for the “waters”.  Of course it is on the desert of Morocco.   Rains said there are not waters here.  Bogart never missed a beat and replied that he was “misinformed”.

Saving Private Ryan is a great movie for many reasons.  I do wish they had all graduating seniors from High School watch it as their final class in American History.  It brings home the tremendous sacrifice and effort others made for them to enjoy the luxury of freedom.   It is also an example of how ordinary men can rise to extraordinary heights when motivated by a worthy goal.  That was a war not fought for treasure or territory but for ideas.   At the end when Hanks is shot and dying after all the terrors and pains of the battle he pulls Damon close to him and whispers in his ear “earn this”.  They do a wonderful job of then transitioning to the much older Damon coming back to visit Omaha beach and the grave of Hanks along with thousands of other buried there.  Damon kneels at the grave while his family waits in the background giving him space to be alone a moment.  He falters a bit in his step as he begins to walk away.  His wife comes to him with obvious concern.  She takes his arm and he looks at her with welling eyes and ask her “Have I been a good man?”  

He desperately wanted to know if he had earned that sacrifice made by Hanks and the thousands of others who never came home.  What a wonderful question.  It of course for those knowledgeable about the Bible recognize it.  It is a version of the famous–“where goest thou?”   Life gets so busy often that we can forget our true “mission” in life.   First there is growing up and school, then slam bam before you know it you are raising kiddos and worrying about them and trying to make your way in life and provide for the family and your prosperity and progeny.  Then you awake one day and you are in you mid fifties.  Young but suddenly it does dawn on you that you have crossed the point of no return, there are left years left than you have lived already.

Sooner or later you can be assured that you will go through a period of assessment.  It is normal and you should.  You will want to know your worth, not in gold but in esteem of those important to you.  Does your wife respect you?  She loves you but does she respect the man you are?   In your heart do you believe you set a good example for you kids?  Would you want them to be like you?  You will add up the bank account for sure but that won’t matter the way the answers to those questions will.  We all have to ultimately give an accounting and have that question asked and answered. 

As you live your life through your 20’s to your 50’s you would do well if on occasion you can ask that question rather than postponing it till all the events in your life have been played out; don’t postpone it while there is still a chance to alter matters if you believe that is best.  Rest assured you will ask that question of yourself and you will know the answer.  While younger allow yourself the opportunity to forge your life so that you won’t have to dread facing the answer to that question.   We all have within us to be good men; it does take effort and even heartache sometimes along the way to make the right decisions and take the correct course of action, but better then than to have the regrets for the right road not taken.

As in ancient times, Iran poses a grave danger to the people of Israel.  This is a hinge point in the middle east.  If Iran achieves great power the worry is how it will be used.  Sadly, they have told exactly how they intend to use it to destroy Israel.  Maybe we should take them at their word.  Hitler wrote exactly what his intentions were but the world chose to ignore it as mere bluster.


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Filed under Culture, family, history, religion

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