Kevin’s Conversations: The Gospel According to Jason Bourne
As the protagonist of the film series starting with The Bourne Identity, Bourne is a formerly highly-trained specialist of the agency who has alternately been in hiding and on the run to preserve his life.
But more than preserving his life, Bourne is also seeking to find out who he really is/was (as he suffers from some form of amnesia) while simultaneously seeking revenge on those who have wronged him and exposing corruption within the CIA. You see, Jason Bourne was part of a secret program within the CIA which trained recruits to be highly-skilled, cold-blooded assassins for the U.S. government. All in the name of protecting the United States. However, when one mission went bad and Bourne was thought to be dead only to later resurface, it was deemed that he needed to be taken out in order to preserve the secrecy and good of the program.
Be that as it may, Jason Bourne cannot be taken out so easily as he uses the superior skills cultivated into him by the CIA – combat, high-tech abilities, proficiency in many languages, etc. – to fight back against the agency and thwart their plans. Through five films worth of classic Hollywood thrilling heart-racing improbable fight scenes, car chases, and indiscriminate action, Bourne has managed to survive and often get the better of the CIA.
Operation Treadstone was created by the CIA to protect the United States. Bourne and other select few were ushered into the program and trained/indoctrinated to become killers on demand for use by the U.S. government. It’s an “ends justifies the means” thing. Sometimes there are international political leaders and threats that need to be taken out to protect the country. Sometimes those that need to be taken out are from within, including former agents. And it all needs to be done in secret to protect from backlash and bad publicity. All in the name of the “greater good” of preserving the United States as seen fit by our governmental leaders.
The irony is that our hero, Jason Bourne, maintains the same “ends justifies the means” perspective as he fights to preserve his own life along with seeking revenge and exposing corruption. Throughout the films, there are countless security workers, police officers, and even ordinary civilians who are killed, injured, and/or placed at serious risk by Bourne as he carries out his mission and own preservation. Many of whom that are just doing their jobs and/or are in the wrong place at the wrong time. But they are an obstruction to Bourne and so he acts as he needs.
You probably all know where this is going. I have written before about the “ends justifies the means” mindset. Having watched the latest installment of the Bourne series this past weekend brought the topic back to mind.
This type of thinking manifests itself in so many circumstances in life. From the simplest little things like what we may say or do to convince a three year old to eat their vegetables to something as immense and grave as dropping atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II.
And it is not always black and white. It is not always so easy to discern to what extent of “means” we should go to achieve the “ends” and whether or not the means are wrong or not. I did not bring up the vegetable or atomic bomb examples to pass judgment on them, but rather to give them as examples to the great expanse of circumstances where this type of thinking can come into play.
My disquietude is when the “ends” regularly trump concerns of the means. When it becomes a normal mindset where there is not regular struggle with whether or not the means are right or suitable when trying to achieve an end.
We see the ends justify the means outlook all over the place. In many areas of life we see people resort to whatever tactics necessary to win their arguments or to further their cause. In the corporate world it is often anything goes in order to improve the bottom line or climb the ladder. In the sports world we find PED’s and lies about ages and deflated footballs. And in politics….. no further explanation is needed.
Then there is the church. Sadly, the church often seems no less immune to such an approach. Whether it is for more noble purposes such as wanting to see more people in church or more devious ones such as trying to gain or maintain control and power over others, consideration of the righteousness or appropriateness of the means often seems like an afterthought, if even given a thought, in pursuit of the ends.
And the guilt is not just with church leaders or within the organization of the church itself. All of us as Christians are guilty of employing such tactics at one time or another. Sometimes we are no better than those in the “world” when we interact in the corporate world or in politics or in our kids’ little league sports.
We bring dishonor to God when we act unrighteously and inappropriately to achieve an end. Even when the end may be a good thing.
May God help our Born Identity to be of one that reflects the righteousness gained in our new births, and not an Identity reflective of the Bourne series where anything goes to achieve the desired ends.