Air Force One
Main Point: We cannot turn a blind eye to other’s suffering. We have an obligation to do what’s right, even if it’s difficult and costly.
The Movie Clip: Air Force One
Before he was Commissioner Gordon, Gary Oldman was a Russian terrorist who had hijacked Air Force One, the plane reserved for the President of the United States. As President Marshall, Harrison Ford dukes it out with Oldman at 40,000 feet in one of the most action-packed movies from the 90s.
General Radak, a murderous dictator, has just been apprehended by American Special Forces, and in retaliation, Russian terrorists take over the president’s plane in order to have Radek released. The ruthless terrorists won’t stop until everyone they hate has been destroyed, including the president’s family.
This film is rated R by the MPAA for “intense violence.” While that’s an accurate description of the movie, this particular scene is completely free of any violence or language.
Introducing the Clip: The Speech
I want to show you a clip from the opening of Air Force One, a movie starring Harrison Ford as the President of the United States. It takes place at a fancy dinner party, where Russian leaders are about to honor the president for his role in taking down a murderous leader known as General Radek. But instead of allowing those present at the dinner to honor him, President Marshall stands up and makes a profound speech about the shame he feels in not doing the right thing sooner. Take a listen to his words, and see if you’ve ever felt the same way.
START CLIP AT 0 HOURS 5 MINUTES AND 44 SECONDS (In Chapter 2)
(The scene opens with a Russian introducing President Marshall. Then, the President takes the podium to make a speech.)
President Marshall: The dead remember our indifference. The dead remember our silence. I came here tonight to be congratulated, but today when I visited the Red Cross camps, overwhelmed by the flood of refugees fleeing from the horror of Kazakhstan, I realized I don’t deserve to be congratulated. None of us do. The truth is, we acted too late. Only when our own national security was threatened did we act. Radek’s regime murdered over 200,000 men, women, and children and we watched it on TV. We let it happen. People were being slaughtered for over a year. And we issued economic sanctions, we hid behind the rhetoric of diplomacy. How dare we! The dead remember that real peace is not the absence of conflict, it’s the presence of justice. Tonight I come to you with a pledge to change America’s policy. Never again will I allow our political self-interests to deter us from doing what we know is morally right. Atrocity and terror are not political weapons. To those who would use them, your day is over. We will never negotiate. We will no longer tolerate and we will no longer be afraid. It’s your turn to be afraid.
END CLIP AT 0 HOURS 8 MINUTES AND 44 SECONDS
When I watch that clip, all I think is: Can I vote for Harrison Ford as President!?! Boom! What a rockin’ attitude, right? We’re gonna do what’s right from now on! Terrorists, your days are numbered! There’s a new sheriff in town, and papa’s got a brand new badge. Unfortunately…it’s not that easy in real life, is it? Hopefully none of us will actually have to battle terrorists, but all of us face situations in life where we’re tempted to just turn our eyes away from the injustice suffered by others. When we do, there’s always shame and regret to face. Plus, there’s the pain that others have had to endure. We just can’t do this anymore. We can’t turn a blind eye to other people’s suffering or injustice or evil. We have to stand up against it and do the right thing…even if it’s difficult.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRLCE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and who we think made the best US President in history.
- ASK A FEW: What would be the benefits of having a president like this one? What would be the consequences?
- ASK A FEW: The President started his speech by saying, “The dead remember our indifference. The dead remember our silence.” What did he mean by that?
- ASK A FEW: He also said, “Real peace is not just the absence of conflict. It is the presence of justice.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: Most of us don’t see the effects of terrorism on a routine basis, but we do see people suffering because of others. Can you give me a few examples of this?
- ASK A FEW: Have you ever turned a blind eye, or stood by, while something bad happened to others? Why do we do that?
- ASK A FEW: What do you think God wants us to do when we see injustice inflicted on others?
Read the following passage:
(Leaders – You may need to read up on this story a little bit so you can provide the background and context that makes this story so powerful. It’s a short book; it wouldn’t hurt to read the whole thing in preparation for teaching.)
Esther 3:8 – 4:14 (NIV)
8 Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. 9 If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business.” 10 So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.” 12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews– young and old, women and little children– on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day. 15 Spurred on by the king’s command, the couriers went out, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered. 4:1 When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. 2 But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. 3 In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes. 4 When Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. 5 Then Esther summoned Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why. 6 So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. 8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to urge her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people. 9 Hathach went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” 12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
During our time together, we looked at two stories about suffering. One was fiction, but the other one was fact. In the movie clip, we watched Harrison Ford make grandiose promises to stop evil in the form of terrorism. Though it made a cool clip, we all know, it’s hard to do the right thing, even when we know it’s the right thing.
But then we read the story of Esther, and saw the historical opportunity that she was presented with as a young girl. What we didn’t read is that she went on to help her people, and was victorious over the evil Haman and his plot to destroy the Jews.
I wish I could tell you that every time you choose to stand up to evil, you will be victorious. But that’s not true. Sometimes, you will suffer right along with the innocent. But it’s still the right thing to do.
As Christians, that’s our calling. We have to stand up to injustice, evil, and sin. We cannot let it run unchecked on our watch. God is expecting us to do the right thing on behalf of others, even if it costs us dearly.
So, take a look at your lives right now. Think about those people you have a relationship with and influence over. Is there someone being picked on? Is there someone you know that’s being teased? Is there someone who is being oppressed or hurt? Is there someone you know who is being abused? If so, what are you going to do about it?
You don’t have the option of doing nothing. You have to act. That’s what God is expecting of you. Let us help you do the right thing. If you need to take some course of action, see one of our leaders after we close in prayer.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.