Earlier this week, my nearly-17yo son convinced me to watch The Avengers with him. This was a big deal, because
A.) my husband was on an overnight trip out of town, and
Yep, I'm a scaredy cat.
- Does The Avengers count as a movie with scary violence in it? Oh yeah, it does!
- Do I want to have nightmares
when my husband is away overnightanytime? No. Most definitely not.
But Tim wanted us to do this together, so I snuggled down under the couch afghan and cowered behind his very wide shoulders and somehow made it through.
Thankfully, I managed to avoid the nightmares this time.
One reason might be the quote I took away from the movie.
Most of my family members love to quote movies, so we're always looking for the quirky or sarcastic or profound sound bites that we can spring on each other later. Part of the goal is to see who can name the movie the quote came from. Part of it is just to bond. Okay, we're goofy, but that's how we roll!
The Avengers had some great quotable moments. But the one that stuck with me and made me think after the movie was finished occurred between Loki (the bad guy) and Agent Phil Coulson from S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil (yes, his first name is “Agent”!) is wounded, sitting on the floor, watching Loki swagger away in apparent victory.
Merriam-Webster defines conviction as “a strong persuasion or belief; the state of being convinced.”
A friend of ours once said a conviction is a moral value or belief you're willing to die for, as opposed to a preference, for which death is a little extreme. For instance, the founding fathers of our country were willing to die for their conviction that freedom should be equally available to all. Martyrs are willing to die for the conviction of their religious beliefs. But people are not willing to sacrifice their lives for preferences.
That's not to say preferences are bad. I prefer chicken and dumplings over liver and onions. Given a choice, I generally prefer blue over orange. Preferences display our differences, our uniqueness. But they're not vital to our survival. No one should die over whether they prefer country music over classical, Ford trucks over Dodge.
And conviction is not just a willingness to die for something. Loki was willing to risk his life, but it wasn't for a moral value. He was driven by greed, by jealousy, by an all-consuming lust for power.
That's not conviction. That's just evil.
Conviction is a vital, driving force in people of character, people who stand for something, people who make a difference in our world.
Looking around our country, do I see people of conviction? Do you?
When I watch the news, I see many people who stand up and shout about their beliefs, but are they willing to die for them? When the final curtain comes down, will they still be standing and shouting? So often they seem to have a cause, but not a conviction.
Yet there are so many others who are putting out for what they believe in, who are charging forward, who are standing firm. And Agent Phil was right. It's because of their conviction.
There are soldiers, largely unnoticed by our media nowadays, banding together to risk their own lives to provide a life of freedom to people in warring countries.
There are groups of doctors risking their own health to provide medical care in impoverished areas of the world.
There are organizations of missionaries, philanthropists, and educators, devoting their lives to benefit others.
And there are individuals, people just like you and me, right here in our own country, sacrificing their own comforts to help and encourage others.
I think of my friend Reba, a former cop who became the victim of a brutal attack and rape. After years of battling PTSD, she learned how to gain victory over her fears, earned her PhD, and began a counseling program to help other women. She is actvely facing her own fears right now by taking her experiences to the road, pedaling across America on her bike so she can meet other women with PTSD and offer the help and hope she has found. (Read her daily blog here: http://www.magellanlifecoaching.com/.)
I think of Tricia, a successful author, mother, and teacher, who has cultivated her hurtful past as a teenage mother and formed an organization which reaches out to teenage mothers today, offering them guidance, support, and love. She has also become an outspoken advocate of adoption who practices what she preaches – after rearing her own family, she recently adopted 3 preschoolers! (Connect with Tricia here: http://www.triciagoyer.com/)
And it makes me think of countless others I know... the retired lady who gives elderly people rides to the doctor, the pastor who goes to help a person start their car... the homeschooling family who rings a bell beside a red bucket on a sleety afternoon... the nurse who gives comfort and care in a hospice situation and sits up all night catching up on the paperwork. It's the businessmen and mothers, the DJs and construction workers, the crossing guards and cashiers... individuals with conviction, making a difference in their world.
Another quote from another movie I watched with Tim this week has also stuck in my mind.
In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Gandalf remarks that someone believes that “it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found,” he says. “I've found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay... small acts of kindness and love."
Small, everyday deeds of ordinary folk.
That would be you and I.
It would be our friends and neighbors.
Ordinary folk performing acts of kindness and love.
Ordinary folk on a mission, fulfilling a passion, making a difference in our world... because of our conviction.
(questions for you)
What convictions drive you?
Who inspires you with their conviction?