Lessons from “One Life”

Lessons from “One Life”

As I say, believers can sometimes wonder what sort of life they are living. The truth is, for most of us, the full and final revelation of what good we may have done and what lives we may have impacted or even helped save (spiritually speaking) will have to wait for the next world. Who knows, there might even be in one sense “Muehlenberg’s Children” – at least in the next life. Yes, we may from time to time be told by someone in this life what an impact we had on them. Perhaps we inspired or encouraged them during a really dark period. Perhaps they sensed our prayers during a needy period. You may even have helped prevent a few folks from committing suicide. We just do not know all that we may have achieved.

I just did something I very seldom do of late: I saw a film. It was about rescuing children. Perhaps the only other movie I went to see during the past four years was also about rescuing children, from sexual traffickers: The Sound of Freedom.

This one was about saving young children in Prague – most of them Jewish – from the Nazis in 1938-1939. It is called One Life and it stars Anthony Hopkins who plays a true character: the British stockbroker and humanitarian Nicholas Winton. He had become deeply concerned about these poor children, many orphaned, all in precarious positions, given the Nazi threat they were facing. It was just a matter of time before Hitler took all of the nation.

All up Winton and a dedicated team managed to save 669 children and bring them to England, just before WWII broke out. The film looks at his life both during the late 1930s, and in the 1980s. It is a powerful and moving story, and tissues will be needed to help you make it through.

Ordinary People

Several lessons emerged from the film – at least for me. One is the fact that much of what happens in life is achieved by ordinary people – both for good and ill. One important book that looks at the great evil ordinary people can do – in this case, during the Nazi era – is entitled Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning. One write-up says this about the volume:

‘Ordinary Men’ is the true story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings as well as round-ups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in Poland in 1942. Browning argues that most of the men of RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but, rather, ordinary middle-aged, working-class men who committed these atrocities out of a mixture of motives, including the group dynamics of conformity, deference to authority, role adaptation, and the altering of moral norms to justify their actions.

But this film of course features a far different sort of ordinary man – one who spent his life working for good, and not for evil. It is an inspiring and moving story of how so much can be achieved by a few committed individuals. Indeed, in the film Nicky refers to his helpers as an ‘army of ordinary men’.

The Power of One – and a Small Group

This film certainly shows just what one person can do to make a difference. Winton kept insisting that he was no hero and that others were heavily involved in this work.

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