“You never know what battles people are facing. Be kind.” – anonymous
You ever watch the movie, Apocalypse Now? There’s a scene in the movie where the soldiers on the ground are taking heavy fire down by the river. It’s chaos. There’s yelling and gunshots everywhere and the commander gets on the coms and radios back to someone and pretty soon the scene shifts to some bomber planes off in the distance just moving in on the scene and they light up the enemy’s encampment with a huge wall of fire. I love the smell of napalm in the morning.
In life, we have a pivotal moment.
We can see a friend in need taking a beating from life and we can choose to do one of 2 things: we can come in hot and heavy for them and bring the heat or we can choose to be silent.
“Evil thrives when good men do nothing.”
You never know what battles a person may be facing in their life. In the TV show, Unbelievable, we see someone named Marie who was assaulted and chooses to tell the truth of what happened to her. She is then hit by doubt from police officers, doubt and mistrust from those closest to her, and begins to falter in life through failed jobs and failed opportunities and through internal sadness and depression.
You see, there are 2 parts to trauma.
First there is the initial battle we face in life. There is the first shock to our senses and our system. But the second shock and a shock I would argue is actually worse than death, is betrayal.
What is betrayal?
Betrayal is when we are taking heavy fire and we radio back on the coms for help and no one comes to our aid. We are not believed. We are ignored. We are told to be silent. We cannot speak our truth. We are isolated. We are mistreated. We are told to just keep going as if the betrayal wasn’t a giant knife wound straight to our heart making us question everything about our existence and our value to others and our trust.
The second level of trauma is a fate far worse than death because nothing breaks like a heart. It will take years upon years to heal this second part for the individual.
Go watch The Passion of Christ. Watch the moment, the worst moment in the movie.
It is the most sorrowful one.
It is not the actual death on the cross. It is not the scourging at the pillar. It is not the walk towards the end.
It is when Peter denies Jesus three times.
Jesus is standing before the tribunal. He finally speaks his truth knowing full well it will lead to a very painful death. Immediately, the crowd bears down on him, yelling and slandering and smacking him around till he falls to the ground. But it is not the crowd that has Jesus’ attention in that moment.
It is Peter.
Jesus takes the hits and the hits keep coming. He is bloodied and bruised and on his knees when Peter, remaining silent, hides a bit in the corner and people approach Peter not once but 3 times and say, “Aren’t you his closest friend?”
Peter gets scared. He doesn’t want the crowd to turn on him.
He says no. He is fearful.
On the third no, that is the sorrowful moment. Jesus is knocked to his knees, we think by the pummels of the crowd, but no, by the betrayal of a person he loved. He turns so slightly and looks Peter right in the eye, even as he continues to take the hits and that is the saddest part in the whole movie.
JF Kennedy’s wife was interviewed once. They asked her, “What is the best trait a woman can have as a wife?” The First Lady’s answer was loyalty. Now, think about that for a moment. Think about all the stories about JFK and Marilyn Monroe and all that and yet that still was the answer…..loyalty.
If that wasn’t the definition of a wingman, I don’t know what else is.
Sometimes we can get hurt, really hurt, by our friends and family. They can do god awful things to us. But, to come in hot, to bring the heat, to lay down a row of napalm on their life’s enemies whether physical or mental, there is no nobler thing for a soul to do on this planet.
Be a coward. Be silent. Be in the corner.
Or bring the heat.
It’s your choice really.
Me, I’d prefer to try to be a wingman. When I go to my maker and I’m asked what did I do, I can reply with all honesty, I did my best when the moment came. I went to bat for my friend, despite our differences, despite our internal arguments, etc. When the moment came, I did not shirk my responsibility to them.
We all make mistakes. We all have times in our life when we could have been better to others. But to have awareness and to not lend aid, that is a nearly unforgivable offense to another’s soul. You may not be able to do much. But if you can do even a little, it is far better than doing nothing at all.
For remember, your friend is not watching the crowd, they are watching you. When we go out on a limb, when we speak our truth out loud, we are more vulnerable in that moment than any other time. And to betray someone in their darkest hour is a far worse act than the brutality of enemies and villains.
What do we love about the story of the Red Baron? He was a dogfighter. Think of a dog. What is the best trait of a dog. Loyalty. Devotion. He’d drop outta the sky, outta the clouds, and start gunning the tail end of some bad guy blazing up and trailing his friends in the sky….one of the best wingmen that ever lived. To be a wingman is to have honor.
My grandfather died an honorable death. He was surrounded by friends and family and the military came to pay him tribute at the funeral. You see, my grandfather was the very definition of a wingman himself. At Wendling Air Station during WWII, his job was a mechanic chief to bomber planes. They’d fly out during the day on their bombing raids over Europe and at night, he and his crew would repair their planes all night long, refueling, and fixing bullet holes in the sides of the plane.
That’s what a friend does. It may not be the best job. It’s more like being Samwise than Frodo. But without Samwise, where would Frodo be?
I started donating monthly to St. Jude’s. Its a place where kids battle cancer. They sent me a letter and asked me to send 1 kid a holiday card. This Saturday, my husband and I were working up Christmas gift list and budgets. I asked him for 50 bucks to send some more cards to St. Jude’s.
You see, years ago…I was really sick and in a hospital. A friend sent me a card. In the card were just a few messages of hope and some biblical quotes. To this day…I remember, “We can do all things through our creator who strengthens us.” And I remember “For I know the plans for you…to give you a future and a hope.”
Sometimes being a friend is not really the napalm. It’s the little things that keep us going in life’s battles. Being someone’s wingman in a clutch moment…it’s a very good thing to be.