Most everyone wants to do good things in this life. We want to feed
hungry children, sit with someone during their last hours of life, help someone
become employable, or release hostages from torture. Some would want to do these things without public recognition, while others would want the fame and
acclaim for wonderful things achieved. One of the most popular movie themes is
the premise of the man or woman who is “in over their head” and likely to die
in some situation but manages to escape destruction and rescue others at the
same time. This premise appeals to our sense of doing good beyond our normal
capacities. One such movie is Bridge of
written by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, and Joel Coen, and directed by Steven
Spielberg. (The rest of this blog contains spoilers. You may want to watch the
movie and then come back to the blog.)
It tells the story of James B. Donovan, an American insurance
attorney, who was known as a negotiator for spy exchanges. Around 1962 he
successfully negotiated the release of Francis Gary Powers, an American
spy-plane pilot, and Frederic Pryor, an American student in Berlin, in
exchange for Rudolf Abel, a convicted Soviet spy. After his success, Donovan was
asked by American President John F. Kennedy to negotiate the release of 1,113
prisoners following the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs Invasion. He secured the release
of 9,703 men, women, and children: in over his head and achieving more than was
normally possible.
Most of us will not have the opportunity to do the things that Donovan
did. We may never be asked by anyone to do some outstanding act of bravery or
intelligence. These sorts of things often come unexpectedly to those who do not ask for them; but, what could I do to help others? What could you do? There
are people who need our help. There are children who need someone to pack them
a lunch for school because their parents do not send
them with a lunch. There are those who are trapped in dangerous parts of the
world who need a sponsor for their status as refugees. There are still others
who, for various reasons, could use our help.
What am I waiting for; what are you waiting for; a call from the Prime
Minister? The opportunities are all around us. They may never make a movie
about us; but we can still be a powerful influence for good.

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