Today (August 23), in 1305, Sir William Wallace was executed for high treason against the king of England. To commemorate his life, and to recognize the ultimate price he paid for the freedom of his native country, we watched the movie "Braveheart" starring Mel Gibson.
The very theatrically compelling (though somewhat inaccurate) story paints the portrait of a man who, before he dies, truly lives.
Watching the movie through the eyes of a mother who encourages her children to be willing to stand alone, it gave me a whole new perspective on character. It is easy to celebrate William Wallace from my side of the television screen, seeing his passion and understanding his heart. The thought that distracted me from the story and captivated my imagination, however, was how did people perceive Sir William when they didn't share my view? He was ruthless, pillaging and murdering people where ever he went. The English were right to fear him. To borrow a 21st century term, he was a domestic terrorist!
I'm not sure how I'd respond if William Wallace was fighting for freedom today. How would my perspective be changed by the media, which side of the battle I was one (my husband is a descendent of Edward I), and whether Sir William murdered anyone in my family. Would I respect him? Would I consider him a hero?
What about the convictions I hold? Some of my convictions are unpopular; I'm traditional compared to some, but very liberal to others. What if I had to make a choice between submitting to authority (my normal tendency) and living out my convictions? The answer isn't nearly as clear in real life as it is in technicolor on a tv or movie screen.
I wish it was. I wish the good guys wore white and the bad guys wore black, and it was obvious when I was tempted by compromise. But it isn't.
Honestly, though I've sought to teach my children to stand alone if necessary, I'm realizing it is much easier to talk about than it is to do. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has their perspective. And everyone seems quite willing to share when they think you are doing something wrong. How can you know truth? The king of England believed he was right. The executioner believed he was right. William Wallace believed he was right. So who really was? And how has our perspective be affected by our culture? Would we still see Sir William as a hero if we couldn't, as a nation, identify with his heart-cry for freedom? What about places where the freedoms we take for granted don't exist? Do they see Sir William as a hero? Do they even know his name?
To stand alone is to invite ridicule, opposition, and persecution. Knowing when to stand requires wisdom. To pass that wisdom and courage on to my children is a much weightier responsibility than I had, to this point, understood. May I have the strength to do my job well, regardless...