Help me get one more7 min read
It’s 12:04 AM on a Wednesday midnight, or you can call it Thursday morning. I was going to upload some of the essays I have written for this blog.
Instead of doing that, I decided to write a fresh essay instead.
There’s something about magical about writing a fresh piece. It’s embracing the present. One idea at a time turns into one full sentence; sentences turn into one full paragraph; paragraphs turn into one full article that channels my one complete message.
What is the one idea I have then?
Some of you may have guessed it from the title if you know some history from WWII.
I got it from the “punchline scene” from the most recent Mel Gibson’s movie, Hacksaw Ridge. I didn’t watch the whole movie. I literally caught the last 30 minutes of it during my work break when my housemate was watching it in the living room. There was a specific scene that gripped my attention from a quiet break. (spoilers alert)
Before I show you the scene clip, it would make more sense to understand the backstory a little. The scene is set at the battle of Okinawa; one of the final battles of WWII‘s Pacific campaign and Hacksaw Ridge.
Every inch of the Japanese home islands was soaked in blood, and nowhere more so than Okinawa. Hacksaw Ridge was a vertical bluff where the Japanese were entrenched at the top in a series of bunkers and tunnels. To reach them in the first place, you needed to climb a vertical cargo net up the ridge, and at the top, you were immediately met with the full resistance of the Japanese.
The only way to get them up was to have naval ships hammer the area with artillery fire and give them a window to get enough men up the ridge to begin a “battle”. The quotes indicate the level of success the Allies had in staying on the Ridge, as wave after wave of death forced them back down the net.
Desmond Doss, a medic private who took a vow before God to never touch a gun for the rest of his life because he never wanted violence to swallow him the way it did his father, who was a shell-shocked WWI veteran. Surprisingly, Doss prevailed his crusade to serve without touching a firearm after a court-martial hearing.
The scene I am going to show you takes place after a long battle between the Allied forces and the Japanese army. Gibson doesn’t shy away from the brutality of war at all.
Hacksaw Ridge is given a horror movie vibe similar to the tension-filled opening of Saving Private Ryan. here’s a sensory desensitization about the experience as you’re powerless to look away. It’s relentless as war doesn’t provide an opportunity to mourn or provide certain contemplation.
Everything is reactionary and as much as war is a physical exertion, it’s a psychological one as well. The battlefield is covered in fire smoke and debris, an almost mystic and atmospheric appearance where the enemy is impossible to see. Scenes of rat covered dead bodies or dismemberment showcase the ferociousness of the encounter.
Some soldiers didn’t fire a round from their weapon, brutally gun downed by the opposition before having that opportunity. Confident men reduced to nothing but shells, fearfully unable to deal with the destruction they see.
If you thought the battle wasn’t harrowing enough, you have bodies used as human shields in order for soldiers to progress forward. Private Doss went into this charnel house completely unarmed.
Treating his fellow soldiers to the best of his ability, Doss was left behind when the Allies were forced to retreat once more as night fell. Doss was not alone, as Allied wounded were littered across the battlefield. (Now, you are ready to watch this scene.)
As you saw in the scene, during the course of the night, Doss went from man to man, triaging them, then literally dragging them to the edge of the ridge where he would lower them down in a jury-rigged rope sling.
This is the film’s triumph. It’s an astounding feat of courage and faith, and it’s impossible not to be moved as Desmond prays constantly, “Help me get one more.,” and heads back out into the uncertain night.
When I was watching this scene, it reminded me of my practice of staying in present and focus on one thing at a time. The more overwhelming life becomes, the more we have to stay in the present and focus only on one thing that we can control.
Desmon Doss didn’t have any control over how many he could have saved. Many died in his arms despite his efforts to save them. The only thing he could control was saving one at a time.
Over that one night, Desmond Doss lowered 75 men including wounded Japanese soldiers he came across. He was injured four times during the battle and was the first conscientious objector to ever receive the Medal of Honor.
In retrospect, I am fortunate to be living in a relatively peaceful era where I do not have to fight a war as a soldier. I don’t have to look over my shoulder to stay alive. I don’t have bayonets, bullets, grenades, or mortars threatening my life from all directions. No matter what life throws at me, there’s nothing can compare to what Doss had to put up with at Hacksaw Ridge.
Sometimes, I get very frustrated with life just because I haven’t achieved my goals in different aspects of my life. That is a reasonable reaction from one perspective.
But, what if I am living in a place where war and death are daily common occurrences? What if I am born in a place where clean water, food, and shelter are rare?
Would I have the opportunity to study abroad at my dream college?
Would I be given the opportunity to serve more than 4,000 families by selling educational and Christian literature door-to-door?
Would I have the resources I have to build location independent businesses that generate sustainable passive income?
I would probably be dead by now.
“Just to put things in another perspective other than being in a war, in 2016, 5.6 million children under age five died, 15 000 every day. The risk of a child dying before completing five years of age is still highest in the WHO African Region [76.5 per 1000 live births], the mortality rate in low-income countries was 73.1 deaths per 1000 live births.” – World Health Organization | Under-five mortality
Yeah, if I were lucky, I am pretty sure I would be either suffering from some kind of PTSD or some chronic disease. If I were to live in one of the poorest countries in the world, I would be working for less than $1.90 a day. (reference)
If you are reading this, you are fortunate enough to have access to the internet, unless someone printed this essay and share it with you.
The next time you find yourself tackling a huge project, don’t overwhelm yourself with how challenging it could be. Believe that god, the universe, your guide or your higher-self will help you, and say, “Please help me get one more.”
You don’t say ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say, ‘I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. You do that every single day, and soon you will have a wall.
~ Willard Carroll ‘Will’ Smith Jr.