Lessons from Okinawa

Resilient belief, how to treat others fairly and other life truths reinforced through the award-wining Mel Gibson directed movie ‘Hacksaw Ridge’.


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One of the deepest movies that I saw last year was Hacksaw Ridge. It is a true life story of a combat medic Private Desmond Doss, who saved the lives of 75 soldiers even though he did not carry any weapon to the battle field. The movie was directed by Mel Gibson. Mel Gibson gave us The Patriots (2000), The Passion of the Christ (2004), and Apocalypto (2006). These movies, as far as I’m concerned, will always be classics.

Hacksaw Ridge is one of those movies I could not afford to watch mundanely. It is full of symbols and truths. I was able to reinforce seven fundamental truths that I have always believed in by seeing the movie.

  1. It is not difficult to have a belief. The true test of your belief is your ability to stand for it in the face of virile opposition. Desmond Doss was a conscientious objector or, in simpler terms, a pacifist. He believed that violence was wrong and refused to bear arms at war. He was persecuted and ridiculed by his colleagues and superiors yet he remained true to his belief. He says: “I don’t know how I’m going to live with myself if I don’t stay true to what I believe.” Our beliefs will at one point or the other be tested. It is how we handle such tests that determine whether we have the conviction we claim or not. Desmond Doss, during training, says: “My values are under attack and I don’t know why.”
  2. We must be careful how we form opinions about other people and how we judge them. A deep river is not discerned by looking at its surface. We live in a vain world where people are judged based on how they look and what they wear. The fundamental truth here is that all you see is not all there is to see. One of Desmond Doss’ colleagues says: “I judge people quick but I got you very wrong.” His boss also makes the same mistake: “All I saw was a skinny kid.  I did not know what I saw.  I’ve never been more wrong about anybody.  Please forgive me.”
  3. Inner strength is very important. We must develop strong internal mechanisms that are based on God. Most of the issues of life are settled in realms that are beyond the physical. Desmond Doss had something that the other soldiers did not have―Inner strength which can only come from God.
  4. One of the most important factors in a man’s life is his ability to discover purpose and follow his purpose through. Desmond Doss: “With the world set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to put a little bit of it back together.” He was ready to die for his purpose. In the end, he saved more lives as a combat medic than he would have as an actual combatant. If Desmond Doss had borne arms, he probably would not have lasted an hour on the bloody fields of Okinawa. The discovery of his purpose kept him alive.
  5. Standing out can single you out. At times, you have to be odd to be the first. Captain Glover speaking to Desmond Doss says: We have to go back up tomorrow and they’re not going to go up there without you.”
  6. Most times, it is not how you begin that matters but how you end it. It is important to at least begin. At the beginning of the movie, Desmond Doss seemed like a big fool that just wanted to waste his life. At the end, he had saved 75 soldiers from death and became a hero with several medals to show for it. Nobody remembers the names of any of the soldiers that were in the Battle of Okinawa today. But Desmond Doss occupies a special place in history books.
  7. “Please Lord, help me get one more. Help me get one more.” Desmond Doss prays to God. This is my favorite line in the movie. It speaks of persistence. It teaches that you will be tired and worn out on the Road that leads to Success but never lose hope instead, draw strength from God!

Did you watch and enjoy Hacksaw Ridge? What did you learn from it?



  1. F
    I screen grabbed your last point, wouldn’t want to forget that quickly. The movie was great, made me pick up my almost dusty Bible.

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