May 30, 2023
Blog / Memorial / military stories / movie reviews
“Je ne sais pas.” Translation from French to English: “I don’t know.” On Memorial Day, I watched the movie 1917. It was the second time I experienced this cinematic wonder. To say it is moving or poignant would not do the film justice. In fact, I have no words to describe the impact of this work of art. I will just say it changed me. It humbled me.
In the movie 1917, this quote, “Je ne sais pas,” is uttered twice by a young woman the soldier encounters on his journey to fulfill his mission – to deliver a message to the Allied troops planning an offensive against the Germans during WWI. The woman was French. She was holding a baby. The soldier asked whose baby it was and what was the baby’s name. Clearly, she found the child abandoned in this God-forsaken place, burned out by firebombs. She only replied “Je ne sais pas.” The soldier gave her his food and the milk he carried in his canteen – milk miraculously provided by a merciful God from a lone cow abandoned on a war-ravaged farm. Although she begged him to stay with her, the soldier had to complete his mission.
“I don’t know.” Three simple words that are the answer to so many questions. “Why do we fight?” could be one of those questions. For one side, the defenders, the answer given is that we fight to defend freedom from tyranny and for the right of self-governance. For the aggressor, the answer could be more complicated. Aggressors fight for power, riches, resources, and land, or to advance an agenda or ideology. They fight because they hate or fear their neighbors. But truly the answer is “I don’t know,” because the death, the destruction, the pain, the devastation, and the price for both sides of any armed conflict is so very extreme and long-lasting, one has to ask: “Why is war the solution”?
And the true answer is unknown because of all the possible solutions to all of the problems of the world and of human existence, war is so obviously the worst option of all. Yet war occurs in the most brutal forms over and over again throughout history – wars between states, wars between countries, border wars, holy wars, gang wars, wars between brothers, world wars. Do you call war a solution? To what?
I don’t know.
Too many of us offer answers to questions out of arrogance when the real answer is “Je ne sais pas.” There is a universe of things we don’t know. What we don’t know greatly outweighs all that we know, about life, ourselves, God, the demonic, and war.
Some say there is no God, and expect rational human beings to accept the notion that the human eye, (for one example) in all its beauty and complexity, was created from nothing by no one.
Why don’t the atheists just say “I don’t know”? Why do they have to make up all kinds of ridiculous reasons to justify such an implausible answer?
I don’t know.
By the way, there is a distinct difference between “I don’t know” and “I don’t care.” When it comes to war, it’s impossible not to care. Watch 1917 and try not to care. I challenge you.
Maybe we don’t want to know. Maybe we just don’t love each other enough. Maybe love is the answer but it’s too simple, too profound a concept to grasp. Maybe God waits for us to turn to Him….for the answers.