Standing in front of a dying Japanese woman, Private Eugene Sledge had to choose between compassion and brutality. Private Sledge was at his breaking point in the show “The Pacific”, on the precipice losing touch with his soul. American marines were hopping from island to island, taking heavy casualties, and fighting in the nastiest of conditions that made even the hardest men break. Eugene Sledge had to choose between putting the woman out of her misery (as she wanted), or comforting her as she lay dying. In this powerful moment of the show, Sledge puts down his Thompson submachine gun and hugs the lady. She passes away in his arms.
During his service in the Pacific theater, Sledge faced a frontal assault from the enemy. The enemy attempted to use the hellish circumstances of war to disconnect Eugene Sledge from himself, and from his soul. The enemy created such a brutal series of events that Sledge was about to lose his ability to feel emotion, love, and compassion. While most of us have not experienced what Eugen Sledge went through, how many times do we face the same exact attack from the enemy?
When confronted with emotional pain, often I find myself choosing to wall my heart off – disconnecting me from my own being, so that I cannot be hurt. I suspect that I am not the only person that does this – whether it be relationships, jobs, kids, or even ministry. It might seem easier for us to guard our hearts because at least we cannot be hurt, right? Pain is a part of life, but we must remember that love and compassion are divine; Thus they are worth fighting for. In the case of Eugene Sledge, a man of faith himself, he chooses compassion and reconnects with his humanity and his soul.
Today, as go where life takes us, we must always remember that no matter what circumstances the world throw at us, we have to act with love and compassion. Pain is temporary, but our acts of love last forever. Sometimes, it requires a conscious decision, but it is always worth fighting for.