Truth needs a soldier.
As a teenager, I read every Tom Clancy book I could get my hands on. Even though those novels are full of bad language and worse writing (I wouldn’t read them or recommend them to anyone now), I kept going back for more. They were exciting stories about international intrigue and military might. No doubt that was part of the allure, but another part was simply Jack Ryan – family man and CIA analyst extraordinaire, who always, always, always did the right thing. I liked that.
Harrison Ford played Jack Ryan in the movies. I never watched him in “Clear and Present Danger,” but I’ll always remember the poster for that one. There was Indiana Jones wrapped in an American flag with the following words hanging above the title: “Truth needs a soldier.” That tagline pops into my head every now and again, and each time it does I can’t help but look around at the present state of the world and think to myself, ‘Man, does it ever.’
I spend a lot of time with make-believe. I hang out with people who never really existed. I visit places I’ll never see in a million years. That’s because I crave stories. You might tell me it’s all a big waste of time, but deep down to my core I can’t accept that. Stories add depth and color to my existence. Sometimes they even inspire me.
I was reminded of this with the recent news another hero from my youth is set to return. Jean-Luc Picard: Explorer, diplomat, consummate chief executive. He’s a man of principle and decency played by an actor who, it’s been said, possesses the uncanny ability to turn even the worst bits of screenwriting into Shakespeare. Way back when, Captain Picard managed to convince me every single week that humanity is going to be OK.
I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy during the summer between my seventh and eighth grade years. I wasn’t ready then. I came back to those books in my twenties surprised to learn the real hero of that epic isn’t Frodo – it’s Samwise Gamgee, Frodo’s loyal gardener and friend. Frodo doesn’t get to the top of Mount Doom without Sam, and Sam somehow manages that monumental journey unstained by the forces of evil.
I, like nearly every other person my age, read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. That’s where I encountered Atticus Finch. I at once admired his kindness and calm, his courage and conviction. Now my admiration is magnified through the lenses of fatherhood and jurisprudence.
These are just a few of my imaginary friends. I could go on and on, but I’ll leave you with this: Truth does need soldiers – today more than ever – and I would learn soldiering by the company I keep.