“What would be the point of all the pain and sacrifice if I wasn’t willing to stand up and keep fighting?”
– Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Season 1, Episode 5, “Truth”
One might be able to tell that I am greatly enjoying this show, and especially the character of Sam Wilson, the Falcon.
Sam is a man well-acquainted with pain, both his own and that of others. He has given much for what he believes in, what he loves, and he has seen the sacrifices of others with clear, unclouded eyes. He is not at all naive about the world and how good people get hurt, and suffer, and lose important things.
The question isn’t simply whether someone understands that or not, but what they do with that knowledge.
Sam has seen old friends became jaded and nihilistic. He has seen old enemies actually trying to do what they think is right, but do so without any light of hope in their eyes. He has seen good men die, heroes fall to corruption, and hopeful idealists turn to terrorism and murder. All of them are dealing with the darkness of the world, with everything they’ve lost and suffered, and it turns many of them bitter, hateful, and destructive.
But the wrongs of the world are nothing new.
Tyrants and traitors have victimized many in the world, for thousands of years. For generations upon generations, men of honor have died for their cause, only for that cause, and their people, and their names, to be trodden under and forgotten. The powerful have always preyed upon the powerless. Good and bad people alike lose important things. Victims are made every day without having done anything to deserve it. Lies, abuse, and neglect have destroyed countless relationships, and countless people have succumbed to the bitterness of their failures.
These are not new things. They have been with us for as long as we have existed.
And yet, we persevere.
We stand up.
We join the ranks of those who are willing to give their all, generation after generation. We reach out in kindness and understanding to support those in need, to heal wounds of the spirit with loving words, loving deeds, and shared tears. We hold up the ideals that past generations have bled for, and we work to raise a generation to whom we can pass the torch. We get up, make our beds, brush our teeth, do our jobs, fulfill our obligations, savor all the happy moments we can make, and give everything we can to help our neighbors, our communities. We volunteer at shelters and libraries. We speak up instead of staying silent in the face of evil. We march, we petition, we vote. We keep fighting for what is right, the best way we know how, even though the world itself may be against us.
This we do because we remember what we have, in humility. This we do because we are willing to persevere, in courage. This we do to preserve the light in our lives for the future, in hope. This we do in honor of all the pain and sacrifice that has already happened, in determination.
Some say that the existence of such pain means that we can never win, that each sacrifice is doomed to be in vain.
I say that the existence of such pain, such sacrifice and darkness, is itself a reason to fight on.
I say that the greatest insult we can give to those who have suffered, including ourselves, is to give up, to let it all be in vain on our watch.
The world will be what it is, yes. But what would be the point of it all if we didn’t keep trying to make the world better anyway?