Is there any wrong worth avenging these days? The new take on The Avengers wowed me the other night an intricate plot, excellent acting, powerful directing, and surprisingly sharp philosophical underpinnings.
Can a feel good summer flick actually teach us something about ourselves and what in life is worth avenging? In a word… yes!
So what, if anything, is worth avenging these days? And what does it mean to avenge?
The writers of Avengers seem to put forward a new patriotism. And how apropo it is at a time when ‘American Pride’ is at an all-time low. Many believe our country has lost it’s way, and in many ways I agree with them. However, all is not lost! Enter Captain America – a hero from a time gone by whose powers came to him via a super soldier experiment engineered by the US – as the plot goes – to counteract the Germans super soldier program. Captain America was cryogenically frozen – think Han Solo – to be kept for a time when America would need him again. See the philosophy of American Exceptionalism sneaking in?
And it doesn’t stop w/Captain America. Tony Stark, Dr. David Banner, Nick Fury and many others in SHIELD round out a cast of heroes – the film purports – that American NEEDS. Take Fury’s motto for example – “they’ll be here when we need them.” Until then, heroes fade to the background. They go back to lives of ignonimity serving the people around them in the place they call home. Which ought to be a comfort and a call to us. We’re asked nothing more in this life than to serve those whom we “bump into” every day. When the occasion calls for it we may be asked to take on something greater. And thank goodness those moments are few and far between.
So there we have the cast of everyday people who do extraordinary things when America needs them. They will be there when our liberty is at stake. And that is the great arc to this story, the raison d’etre as the french phrase it that causes our anger to rise in response to great evil, and draws us to avenge a wrong levied against those we love.
A brief definition from Webster’s – ‘v – to take vengeance for or on behalf of.’ An avenger is one who takes action to bring justice to a wrong that has been perpetrated against another. ‘Vengance is mine.’ Thus saith the Lord. Great reminder to not take on something that is not ours to carry. And yet, we are asked from time to time to carry a heavy burden. Maybe your burden is parents who are in a rest home and being taken advantage of by “the system.” Maybe your burden is the sex slave trade across the world. Maybe your burden is parents whose nest egg was crushed by the recent financial crisis.
Whatever your burden, it is worth avenging. The Avengers teach us this eternal truth. Let’s take this film for what it is – a clarion call to refresh the liberties this country once thrived upon. Let’s you and I engage in the political process, but let’s start our care for the ‘polis’ or city where God asks us to, in our own homes, with our own communities, in our own places of worship. The effects will trickle out… and will serve as the nutrients for the tree of liberty that Jefferson mentioned in his writings – “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
Our country has been in fewer periods of history that require such precise attention to the political winds. If this ship of state is to be righted, we must start pouring out the blood, sweat, and tears of sacrifice and service now that will lead to fruit for generations to come. If we don’t I don’t care to muse on what might happen. I’ve seen too much injustice already.
Do not be anxious about anything. But in everything, through prayer and petition, make your requests known to God. For he cares for you.