The other day I watched ‘The Book of Eli’ which is described as a post-apocalyptic tale, in which a lone man fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind. Whilst the story is engaging enough, I was mostly touched by three life insight / lessons.
Lesson 1. The main character (Eli) had been on a mission to take the book (the Bible) westwards to a home. This mission had given Eli a reason to live (purpose) and a basis to orient his life (make choices, make decisions, what to do, what not to do). Do I have a clear purpose? And do I use that purpose to fashion (organise) my living so that it is in harmony, in alignment, with that purpose?
Towards the latter part of the film Eli is presented with a choice to give up the book or to die. He chooses not to give up the book. The villain then presents Eli with another choice: to give up the book or let Eli’s companion die. Eli gives up the book and his companions life is spared. Later the companion joins up with Eli and asks him why he did what he did. And Eli’s answers give rise to the next two lessons.
Lesson 2. Eli states that after carrying the book for thirty years and memorising it by heart, he got that the key thing was to live by the principles in it. To practice what the book preaches. And in Eli’s case the lesson of the book was ‘to do more for others than you do for yourself’. What kind of a world would be possible if enough of us were willing to do more for others than we do for ourselves? Am I willing to be one of these people? In which areas can I start doing more for others than I do for myself?
Lesson 3. I was struck by Eli’s insight that he had got so gripped by the mission (protecting the book) that he had failed to live by its central principles – the core values such as a respect for life, tolerance, do unto others as you would wish them to do unto to you…… How many of religious folks get so wrapped up in their religion that they fail to practice the central principles? How many of our institutions fail this test? How many of us fail this test? And of course how I fail this test – especially when I am stressed.