Tuesday, July 27, 2010
saving private ryan dilemma
by Cobus Oosthuizen
So I was in court today...again! Working with youth-at-risk often means that drug dealing spots, prisons and courts becomes one’s second office. Today I was once again showing my support to one of our LifeXchange girls who smacked the back of another ladies head with a brick and now has an assault case against her. She is guilty...so why then do I support her? I call this the “Saving Private Ryan dilemma.”
Have you ever watched the (absolutely brilliant) movie Saving Private Ryan? Halfway through the movie a small group of soldiers from the US military who’s mission was to find Private Ryan, decides to take out a German bunker with a machine gun that can cause serious damage. After they have flanked the banker, a scene of shots being fired and hand grenades being thrown ends with the dust settling and the small group of soldiers surrounding their good friend and medic who had been shot. A dramatic seen of his last breaths are followed by a scene where the German who killed him is captured and forced to dig his own grave after which he would be executed. To the absolute horror of the group of US soldiers, a non-combatant, inexperienced, translator that joined the US squad for translating purposes convinced the captain that it would be wrong to kill the German soldier. Because keeping him captured would jeopardize their mission, the captain decides to let him go free. The last war scene of the movie ends with the same German, who rejoined his army, killing the captain...the very person who had given him his freedom.
Am I the “translator,” that with my letters, my testimonies of good conduct, my advice and support let the German killers go free, just to kill again? I want to believe that everyone deserves a second chance, that the moment for that person on the stand might be the moment of change...or at least the moment where they realize that LifeXchange is committed for the long run. I want to believe that there is more to the story than what the spectator sees...that the German hated war, had his own family, was living in fear of Hitler, was doing his job… and had very little choice...
so is it my task to advocate for those who are guilty...what about the victim?
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