LAST week I went to the cinema.
Popcorn and everything, the whole nine yards!
I hadn’t been in a very long time. But I am so glad I went.
I didn’t really have an idea what I was going to watch, but decided to make up my mind on arrival.
The moment I saw Tom Hanks’ face on one of the advertising boards, I knew I had to see it: Bridge of Spies.
(Stay with me, it will make sense).
In the film – directed by Steven Spielberg – Hanks plays an insurance lawyer, James Donovan, who lands up with the complicated task of defending a Soviet Spy, Rudolf Abel, played by the brilliant Mark Rylance.
Not only is this one of the most tense times in history, (the Cold War), but the plot thickens when Donovan is tasked with also rescuing a captured American U-2 pilot from the Soviet Union. And just for good measure, the plot thickens even more, when Donovan discovers there is an American student who similarly needs to be rescued.
The film is inspired by true events, which makes it even better.
I know it’s slightly exhausting to follow, but I am sure you get the picture: it was tense. And more importantly, a matter of life and death for everyone involved.
The US pilot, the Soviet Spy, the American student and Donovan, if he made one wrong move.
As I watched there was one scene that stuck with me, and continues to play over and over again in my mind.
(I’ll try my best not to give away too much)
In this particular scene, Donovan is speaking to the Soviet Spy, Abel, in what appears to be a visitor’s room in a US Federal prison.
As they discuss the way forward, Donovan stands up – trying to work out a solution to their problem – while Abel sits and smokes his cigarette.
In that moment, Abel looks up to Donovan and utters a Russian phrase.
Donovan asks what it means, and Abel elaborates:
“Standing there like that, you remind me of a man when I was young…our house was overrun by border guards…And this man, my father’s friend, he was beaten…every time they hit him, he stood back up again…they hit him harder…still he got back to his feet… I think because of this, they let him live…Standing man…Standing man”
The Russian phrase meant: The Standing Man.
What a powerful moment.
Abel was obviously not only referring to Donovan’s ‘standing’ in the literal sense, but to the stance he had taken against the authorities.
It was unheard of, a US insurance lawyer, defending a Soviet Spy, in the Cold War! Outrageous!
But here they were, working together and while Donovan faced all the opposition in the world: he remained ‘The Standing Man’.
At first glance, the notion of a ‘Standing man’ would seem a very passive thing. Like, a weak man or woman, waiting for something to happen.
But it is the exact opposite.
It is the aggressive act of defying the odds no matter what.
It speaks of a man or woman, who will not accept no for an answer.
Someone who will keep getting up, even when hit harder by adversity.
It speaks of a silent strength that doesn’t need to announce its courage – the very fact that I am still standing, is the message!
It says better is the man or woman who chooses to try and fail than he or she who sits back and wonders ‘what if’.
I am not sure what you are going through, or trying to accomplish in life, but I urge you, become The Standing Man.
As long as you are in the will of God for your life, then refuse the answer that says: No.
Refuse the closed door.
Take heat and get back up.
God is with you Standing Man!