Lessons on respect from Hacksaw Ridge

Doss stuck to his principles and didn’t back down — even if it meant he was threatened with court martial.

By Adele Nash.


How do you react when someone treats you with disrespect? What about when they’re disrespectful because you’re doing what’s right based on your personal principles? It’s tough, because it seems so unfair. You can easily be tempted to just treat them in the way they’ve treated you rather than turning the other cheek.

Turning the other cheek is an old cliché that actually originates from a Christian principle. In the Bible, Jesus talks about doing that in the book of Matthew. He challenged His followers to not seek revenge, but to go the extra mile for others. Luke 6:31 tells us to do to other what we would like them to do to us.

From the first day of training, the enlisted men who worked with Private Desmond Doss knew he was different — not just because he would go the extra mile to help others. As a devout Seventh-day Adventist, Doss would read the Bible and kneel to pray each night by the side of his bunk. Whether or not he was oblivious to the boots, insults and disrespect thrown his way by his fellow soldiers, he chose to continue to treat his fellow soldiers with respect. In fact, he would often clean their boots and return them to their owners.

Doss also respected God wanting people who follow Him to not kill others, as well as respecting fellow humans. Even when they disrespected Doss, he showed them kindness in return. That doesn’t mean that he was a wimp or a pushover. He stuck to his principles and didn’t back down from them — even if it meant he was threatened with court martial.

Sticking to these principles saw Doss save hundreds of lives in World War II, receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism in rescuing 75 men following an assault on Hacksaw Ridge, and gain the respect and admiration of his fellow soldiers in the process.

When you watch the documentary The Conscientious Objector, you can see the respect his fellow soldiers hold Doss in. This doesn’t go to his head — he stays humble and never uses it as a chance to hold their poor treatment of him against them. Respect is a two-way street — sometimes it just takes a little longer for traffic to flow smoothly in both directions.

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