September 21, 2004

The Warrior’ Path

I watched "The Last Samurai" yesterday. Or rather, I actually began watching it on Saturday but couldn’t finish it on Sunday since I had some other stuff to do and so finished watching it yesterday :p I loved the movie. I had not thought I would like it as much as I did when I started watching it but by the time the movie ended, I was loving it. There were moments in the movie which left me pondering about things and that always is a good thing for a movie. What struck me most about the film was the fact that we all have habits, customs or a way of life that we think is the "right" one. It is only when we come face-to-face with something totally alien do we realize that there are other ways than ours and while that might not be the suitable way for us, we must respect the ways of others if we are to ever live in peace on this Earth of ours.

One scene that struck me especially was towards the end when Algren (Tom Cruise) and Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe) charge the army of Omura (Masato Harada). While I by no means like violence and would rather find a solution through discussion, I was left with the feeling "this is as it should be, person to person, face to face" when I saw them charging the opposing army. And then … they get cut to pieces by the Gatling gun of Omura and fall in their tracks. I was thinking how low have we fallen, no longer will we even take the honourable way of fighting (if we must fight) by facing our enemy and taking the same risks as s/he does. Instead, we stay far away in safety and fire upon our enemy with weapons that kill without distinction – combatant or non-combatant … there is no difference. Worse yet, our commanders and leaders (the ones who actually order these wars/killings) sit even further away (perhaps even in a different country) safe from all the destruction that they order. I see no honour in such a way.

But then again, was is not about honour any longer, is it? No, wars are fought by the greedy, the opportunistic – people like Omura in "The Last Samurai". People who are only concerned with gaining power or wealth – not about something as transient as honour. Of course, on the other hand, one might say, "What honour is there in killing somebody else?" but that is not my point. My point is that if kill you must, then kill face-to-face, against an opponent who is armed the same as you and has as equal an opportunity of killing you as you them. Perhaps then we would have less wars … but then again, given humanity’s track record so far, that seems unlikely.

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