So what’s a little boy, an elite Garrison soldier, and Sydney Carton have to do with each other? Last month I came across a lot of thinking about sacrifices from two different ends of the spectrum, a short film at church, and the anime Attack on Titans. What is worth a sacrifice? How much can we sacrifice until it has been done in vain? Can there be change without sacrifices?
On Friday night, I went to attend the usual Youth Group meeting we have every week at church. This week, my youth group leader decided to show us a short film she came across. It was a short film about 33 minutes and title Most, the Czech word for The Bridge. The story follows a young boy and his father faced with a tremendous decision, a rail disaster, and a troubled young woman. What do these three have to do with each other?
The boy and his father end up going to the railroad tracks together as it seems to be part of the father’s job to raise the tracks for the ships to pass by underneath. As he lifts up the bridge, a train suddenly appears early. The son tries to warn his father and eventually tries to take matters into his own hands by trying to stop the train, but ends up laying on the tracks trying to work at a control panel. The father notices the train and the boy and has to make the quick decision of either letting the train survive by lowering the bridge and killing his son, or not lowering the bridge and having his son killed. He makes the decision to save the train of hundreds of people, but falls into a despair of losing his son. A woman on the train at the time was having issues in life such as drug abuse. As she witnessed the scene, she becomes touched enough to turn her life around. The man later sees her with her own son.
Quite a sad story. The main reason for showing this was the relate to the story of the gospel. God sending down his son Jesus Christ to die for the sins of mankind, portraying the ultimate sacrifice. Without going into more details, I’ll continue on with the next side of sacrifice.
On the same day, I started to watch an anime, Shingeki no Kyojin, also known as, Attack on Titan, and finished it the day after. I have been debating on whether to watch it or not because although I heard that it was amazing, I also saw that it looked quite terrifying. I was constantly warned of the large amount of deaths that occurred and to anyone who might consider it, I am warning you of the large amount of deaths that occurred. If you accustomed to too much violence, it’s best to read cautiously, but I will try not to be to graphic.
The anime itself actually was not all that graphic because it was censored enough so that you know what happened, but at the same time, everything wasn’t shown. Their deaths were horrible but the image of the dead bodies were bearable. The story follows a society in which humans are faced with a race of Titans, large creatures typically ranging from 3 -15 meters tall, though a 60 meter tall one had been seen. The Titans’ sole purpose seems to be eating humans. Most seem to have no intelligence but have no specific reason to eat humans because they provide no nourishment to them. The main protagonist, Eren, and his companions go through many near death experiences and emotional trauma as they try to get more information of Titans and defeat them for humanity. Here is where the sacrifice comes in.
The anime is realistic. As much as we love stories where the main protagonist is determined and almost always conquers, Attack on Titan is realistic enough to show that humanity is not always going to win. Civilization dwells within 3 walls built in concentric circles. The outer wall surrounding the poorer people and first invaded by the Titans. When it falls, the large amount of refugees are not able to be supported in the two inner circles and are therefore sent out to try in a futile effort to retake the outer wall, 250 thousand in total. Only 100 survived. In episode two, there are already that many deaths. Those 250,000 sacrificed allowed the rest to live comfortably without food shortages and enough space. The story goes on with continuing the trend of sacrificial deaths.Although a minor character, one of the memorable ones was when Ian Dietrich (in the header image) sacrificed his life for a comrade by jumping into the Titan’s mouth and pulling out his team mate right before the ginormous mouth closed on him. I had to look up some stuff to even be able to find his name.
The main point I wanted to convey is that sacrifice results in change. One of the main psychological themes of Attack on Titan was that sacrifice was required for change. Everyone is angry about sending people out the walls just to die. The taxes are what supports these soldiers, and the lower classes are not happy about spending money to achieve no progress on defeating the Titans. However, the strategist of the story says
Someone who can’t sacrifice anything, Can’t never change anything.
That to defeat a monster, you have to be willing to throw aside your humanity.”
And so, they continue to fight for humanity. Even though the losses are tremendous, if they didn’t occur, not even 1% progress could have been achieved. An important thing for the people who were dying was sense of progress. They would ask, “My death is not in vain right? I was useful?”
A dying comrade utters these words to Captain Levi
Similarly, Most is centered around the sacrifice of a man’s only son. A friend watching the movie didn’t really see the impact of the story. Why did the boy have to die anyway? It was something easily prevented. Why couldn’t the people on the train, the father, and the son all live happily? One major factor of the story was the life of the young woman being changed. If the son had not died, the woman would have not had her eyes opened to change at that moment. Because of his sacrifice, a despairing life was saved. Thus, the analogy between God and the father in the film. I doubted God’s empowering love at many points in my life, much like many other believers I’ve met. However, this made me see His own sacrifice. The people on the train = us, the father = God, the son = Jesus. If the God not sacrificed his son, we would still be blinded. For us to get ourselves in check, we have to be able to see that someone else was willing to take our fall.
Now, if we really want to do this, I can once again relate this to A Tale of Two Cities. Sydney Carton will be known for two daring actions in the book that melts the hearts of females everything. One was his heartfelt love confession, while the other was his brave and selfless sacrifice for the love of his life. He is a sweetheart. His sacrifice altered the lives of Lucie and her family. A dim one suddenly becomes bright.
Losing someone from a sacrifice, can become a bitter sweet memory. Death is, of course, a depressing side. However, in a sacrifice, you know that they died for your cause, so you must live on for them. If someone died for me, I would find it quite difficult for me to remain the same as I was. Sacrifice is a motivation that generates change.