CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (2013), starring Tom Hanks, is a riveting motion picture showcasing many attributes of a good story retold: it’s based off a real life event, has great acting, it’s breathtaking from start to finish, and it captures the emotional essences of love, compassion but justice for enemies, loyalty, and sacrifice. It also lauds the role the military services play in defending civilization against anarchy.
The portrayal of the US Navy and Navy SEALs in Captain Phillips, I found, was extraordinary in that there is such a commitment to justice that a whole military operation can be about saving one person. The basic ethos of a SEAL is as follows:
When we combine the hellishness of initial training – part of which includes “hell week” where candidates endure 20-hour days of physical training with only four hours sleep (overall) over five-and-a-half days – with the second-to-none ethos of the Navy SEALs – which is about team and buddy before self, always – we get a unique insight as to what it’s like to be a warrior. It hardly seems possible that a human being could endure such physical torture. But our special forces do, and these special men have done it every conflict, every battle, every engagement, and every week for decades.
For the Christian – for the one who knows of the spiritual warfare abounding in the moment – there is the need to get ready and to stay ready as SEAL does. This is not just about getting ready for that call home to eternity.
Our readiness is for action 24/7. Attacks against our families, our churches, our schools, our faculties, our nations – attacks of a spiritual nature against righteousness, justice and equity – we have to be ready for. We have to be at the ready to protect our buddy’s back. They come first. Per 1 John 3:16, we are ready to lay down our lives for our friends – in the exact order of our Exemplar, Jesus.
As soldiers for Christ nothing is to get in our way or dilute our priority set. With focus, we never ever lose sight of what is important – our brother and sister in Christ, and to our potential brothers and sisters in Christ. Every human being has eternal worth in our thinking and doing. We are prepared to die for them if it’s necessary – that is our true calling; our duty. Secondarily, but no less important, as an all-encompassing summary, we must 1) honour God, 2) be faithful to his church, 3) obey his Word, and 4) do his will. Always.
As Christians, we have one goal – to live for and to glorify God. The chief way we do this is by laying down our lives for our friends as Jesus did. Our sacrifice is unquestioned and we have no regrets. Being a soldier for Christ is the top of the pecking order for life. It is God’s finest and most immediate calling.
Why does God allow suffering? Such that, because God has faith in us, we can become forged by adversity! We are made stronger for the battles on the horizon.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.
“FORGED BY ADVERSITY” – NAVY SEAL ETHOS
In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America's finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.
My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day. My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own. I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.
We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations. I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.
We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me – my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete. We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend. Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.