1. Fight Club: “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
We spend all of our lives trying to move up on an imaginary ladder. Even when we do succeed, we live in constant fear of falling off and hitting bottom, so it’s still very agonizing – and not very fulfilling. By actually hitting bottom, it gives one unbelievable strength when the realization emerges that you have the ability to endure rock bottom. You understand that you have nothing to lose.
This makes one virtually unstoppable from that point forth. You are free to do anything, to go anywhere, to try anything. No matter what you try, it doesn’t matter if you fail. You’ve already lived through rock bottom and are still breathing. This is the only way to fully enjoy the journey for what it is.
2. Braveheart: “They can take our lives, but they can never take our freedom!”
This stems from Socrates’ philosophy that he alone controls the power to generate his independent thoughts and beliefs. There is immense nobility and courage in the understanding that life is bigger than ourselves, and that we can believe in or love something so strongly that we’d rather be tortured or killed than to deny our truth.
3. Batman, The Dark Knight: The ferry scene.
The Joker hijacks two boats full of people and gives them each a detonation trigger for the bomb located on the other ship. He tells them that if one of them blows up the other boat, he will let them live. If neither do it, they both blow up by midnight.
A prisoner from one boat tricks the guard into giving him the device, and throws it overboard. Everyone looks down in silence together. The other boat also refuses to detonate the bomb. Everyone looks down in silence together.
This scene was the most powerful scene I’ve ever watched in a fiction movie. It reveals that in a kill or be killed world, the only way to create widespread peace is to be willing to risk your own life and commit to non-violence – so strongly – that you place your entire faith in humanity to do the right thing. Fear, pre-emptive strikes, revenge attacks – all of these perpetuate war and suffering for humanity. It is only by following Gandhi’s philosophies of intentionally deflecting suffering inward that we can shock others enough to reconnect with their empathy and release their anger.