Rescue Dawn is code. Overcoming adversity after being captured is something almost none of us will ever have to experience. But it is the dawn of rescue that all of us need to see as we seek to crack the code and overcome “The disease of me.”
In one of the better Viet Nam War movies I’ve seen, the 2006 film Rescue Dawn staring Christian Bale, in its own way, speaks of this disease of me. It’s very good. IMDB says the film depicts “a US Fighter pilot’s epic struggle of survival after being shot down on a mission over Laos during the Vietnam War.” Shot down on his first mission, Dieter Dengler, played by Bale, was shot down and captured by villagers sympathetic to the Pathet Lao during an American military campaign in the Vietnam War.
Dieter survives torture and torment at the hands of his captures and overcomes, to mix sports and war, “the disease of me.” Sports are often portrayed as “battles” and “wars.” We commend and commemorate sports veterans this Memorial Day, not to belittle or belie our veterans whom we honor today. War veterans won and overcome adversity because they did not succumb to the disease of me.
Pat Riley coined the term “The disease of me” in order to encourage his player to be sacrificial and discourage them from being selfish. In order to win, teams must work as a unified unit, as a well oiled, well maintained machine, not as a collection of individuals. Why? Because the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. Pat Riley, the famed coach of the “Showtime Lakers” and now the General Manager of the Miami Heat, hopes to accomplish a “Three Peat;” a term he coined and copy writ but a feat he has yet achieve.
In order to win, teammates must lose themselves in the team. When you lose your individual identity, your team gains a corporate identity. You find yourself in among the individuals that you play with when you are not afraid to deny and disavow yourself. In order for our Maker to allow and avail and authorize our individual talent, it must be consumed and subsumed within the team. In other words, if you lose your life you will find it, and if you find your life you will lose it. Pat Riley called it “The Disease of Me;” and the disease of me equals the defeat of us.
In order to triumph, the church just be healed of the disease of me. Selfishness, self-interest and self-centeredness are friends of egoism and egotism, and are the enemies of victory and triumph.
The Church will NEVER truly triumph until we are each cured of the disease of me. So think of someone else; focus on a coworker; be happy for someone else’s success; save your brother. And remember the six danger signals of the disease of me, and take the pill self-sacrifice: