‘There is Never Only One Way’*

Today in the US, we are observing Memorial Day, a day in which we remember the many people who gave their lives in service to their country. As I think of them, I can’t help but feel a sense of deep loss at the lives gone and the potential unfulfilled.

I’m not naïve enough to think that we can instantly end all of the conflict and hostility there is in the world. But at the same time, I think we owe it to those who lost their lives, and to their loved ones, to do our best to make sure that no more young people have to die in war.

Perhaps top on my list of commentary on war comes from Peter Weir’s Witness (1985). By the way, if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it highly. In this scene, young Samuel Lapp (Lukas Haas), who is Amish, is having a conversation with his grandfather, Eli (Jan Rubeš). For those of you not familiar with the Amish, among other things, they are conscientious objectors to war. The first 30 seconds of the clip are key.


I’ve never heard it said better. I’d like to think there’s always another way, too. It may not come immediately, but it will not come if we aren’t willing to do the work we need to do to find other options to war.

I think that’s the least we owe to those who gave their lives in service to their country, and to their families.

*NOTE: The title of this post comes, of course, right from this scene.


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28 responses to “‘There is Never Only One Way’*

  1. Keishon

    True sentiments. I love that movie, btw.

  2. Hope it was a very good day Margot – by sheer coincidence, was just watching WITNESS the other day – great film.

  3. Words of wisdom, Margot. Today I salute my USMC comrades who fought beside me in Vietnam and didn’t make it back to the “World” (our term for home) alive, as well as all the fallen from all wars. Semper Fidelis, one and all.

  4. kathyd

    Wish peace would break out. But more wars going on, weapons building.
    I support a friend’s slogan. He is a disabled Vietnam war veteran. He says, “Support the veterans, not the war.” I agree.
    Monday was a good day to think about this.

  5. I know that I do not feel safer in America with guns all around.

  6. Col

    Food for thought.

  7. Lovely tribute, Margot. Life can be so cruel sometimes.

  8. Wow. Powerful scene. Hope you had a nice Memorial Day (and weekend).

  9. tracybham

    Very nice clip, Margot. It says it very well. I have seen Witness (several years back) and enjoyed it.

  10. I saw Witness years ago, a good film. And this is an excellent scene with thoughtful writing.

    • I think it is, too, Moira. One thing I’ve always liked about this film is that it shows the Amish in a bit more depth. They are human beings, rather than just people dressed in funny clothes who ride in horse-drawn vehicles. This scene really shows a strong bond between Eli Lapp and his grandson, too.

  11. kathyd

    Although I support few wars, I do support the war against Hitler, etc. But as a child, I knew a neighbor who had a family and they lived in my building. He had been a conscientious objector during WWII as he couldn’t kill anyone. He was also the first vegetarian I ever met. He couldn’t eat an animal that had been killed.
    I respect him for holding to his convictions, although I also respect my father who tried to enlist early on before the U.S. entered the war, but he was rejected for medical reasons.

    • That’s really interesting, Kathy, that you and your family knew a conscientious objector. And I agree with you: the war against Hitler was a very different kind of war to most wars.

  12. I love the movie Witness, Margot. I watched it again not long ago and was struck by how much space there is in the script — how much happens without words. Stunning film-making (and more than a bit proud to be a compatriot of the film-maker).

    • You should be proud, Angela. Weir did an absolutely outstanding job with the film. You’re absolutely right, too, about how much effective use there is of silence, gesture, facial expression and more. Words aren’t always necessary, or even desirable. And might I add that I’ve always been impressed with the way Weir depicted the Amish in both an honest and a respectful way. Great film, indeed!

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