Oscar Schindler and True Discipleship
I just saw the movie Schindler’s List, I am ashamed to admit, for the first time. I’d seen the first hour but not the rest and I found it to be an incredibly profound film. Of course, having many relatives that had lived through similar experiences, the film resonated with me in many deep ways. Yet, one scene in particular stood out to me towards the end of the film. As I watched it, it made me reflect on what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
Right after the end of the war, Schindler whom has saved over 1,000 Jews is given a ring with the Talmudic phrase that says ‘whoever saves one life, saves the world.’ Schindler has gone bankrupt in order to save the lives of ‘his jews.’ Yet, Schindler’s reaction is not joy but absolute horror. Instead of satisfaction at the good that he has done he mourns the fact that he was not able to save more lives.
“I could’ve got more…if I’d just – I don’t know, if I’d just – I could’ve got more.”
His business partner tries to reason with him and to show him that he had saved thousands and that “there will be generations because of what you did.” Yet, Schindler is wrecked with grief at the fact that he did not sell his every possession including his car and his gold pin
“This Pin- Two People. This is Gold. Two more people. He would’ve given me two for it. At least one. He would’ve given me one. One more. One more person. A Person, stern. For this. One more. I could’ve gotten one more person. I didn’t.”
It struck me that this kind of a response is the mark of a true servant of god. Just as the rich man comes to Christ in Matthew 19:20 and asks “what lack I yet,” so to does a true disciple look always to what he/she could have done above and beyond rather than dwell on the glory of one’s accomplishments. Schindler seems to have gathered the true meaning of Christ’s response to the rich man. We must realize that our possessions are nothing compared to the value of a single soul.
I am reminded of D&C 18:15 which reads
“And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my father.”
Schindler throughout the brutish and horrific night of the war had come to realize how precious just one soul could be
This scene also made me reflect on the nature of the Last Judgment. Mosiah 3:25 describes how the evil
“are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment from whence they can no more return, therefore, they have drunk damnation to their own souls.”
Schindler was not one of these evil individuals by any stretch. He was a hero that had done much to save lives. In horrific circumstances he rose above and beyond what we could expect of any man. Despite his origins as a philanderer, ladies man and partier, Schindler had become a beacon of light. Yet, even such a good man is wrecked with the knowledge of his own deficiencies and failings. The thought that even one extinguished life could have been saved is painful for him to contemplate.
This makes me think about all of my failed opportunities to do good; all of the times where I stayed my hand and should have been more generous. If this is the internal state of man that saved 1,000 lives, I do not want to face myself if I do not dedicate my life in service to the kingdom of god. I can do so much more and I know that.