What makes for a good call to arms?
Why is William Wallace’s speech at Stirling so powerful? What makes Henry’s St. Crispin’s Day speech epic?
Before the Battle of Stirling, the Scottish freedom fighters are a complete mess. They have assembled on the field at the call of the Scottish nobles, but they hardly seem interested in fighting. In fact, from the dialogue we discern that they are used to assembling, waiting for the nobles to work a deal with the English, and then go home without so much as one swing of their respective swords, or axes or whatever they have as weapons.
And the Scottish nobles have to urge the “soldiers” not to run away before a deal is struck, or else they will have no bargaining power with the English.
Then Wallace arrives and everything changes. He says:
I am William Wallace.
And I see a whole army of
my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny.
You have come to fight as free men. And free men you are!
What will you do with freedom? Will you fight?
When a soldier says, ‘No! We will run — and live, Wallace goes on:
Yes. Fight and you may die. Run and you will live, at least awhile.
And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that, for one chance to come back and tell our enemies that they make take our lives, but they will never take our freedom?
Wallace doesn’t use a lot of words, he just uses the right ones.
Wallace understands his Scottish brothers, and essentially, all men. He knows that men need to engage in battle. He knows that they need a real reason to fight, and Wallace gives them one.
Resignation and defeat was all the Scottish nobles had to offer, and the Scottish “soldiers” knew the farce of it. The Scottish nobles were passive, disengaged shells of manhood, and the rest of the men of Scotland were becoming just like them.
Wallace arrived on the scene as a different sort of leader and suddenly there was excitement among the ranks. If Wallace was for real, he was worth following.
Our call to arms as Christian men is to rise up against the tyranny of a pornified culture in which we have become passive, disengaged shells of manhood because of our addiction to lust and pornography.
Wallace leads his men with a call to fight for what matters because if we keep capitulating the life we have won’t be worth living. This is a lot like what Jesus says to us.
Jesus says that if we seek to save our lives, we will lose them. However, if we lose our lives for Him (for the right reason), then we will find true life (Mark 8:35, paraphrase).
What usually happens is that men either pick the wrong battles, or they learn to be ashamed of their warrior hearts. We need our warrior hearts for this battle. Purity and freedom in our pornified society require a fight.
The most important and valuable things in life do.