What are you willing to fight for?
It’s a question we should ask ourselves often. It’s one that’ll guide our lives.
There is no easy answer, either. Finding what we value most requires that we first evaluate ourselves. It demands that we learn from the stories of others. Within every story is a lesson.
The tale of Masada provides one such lesson.
During the First Jewish-Roman War of 66-73 CE, a group of Judean extremists known as the Sicarii led a campaign against Roman occupation. They were mostly warriors and assassins, and their tactics included everything from public assassinations to the Ein Gedi Massacre, where 700 Roman civilians were slaughtered.
This kind of warfare was vicious, the results were often bloody, and brutality was indeed a regrettable consequence, but the Sicarii still managed to set an undeniable precedent: the Roman occupation, an injustice in and of itself, was entirely unacceptable.
The Romans retaliated.
In 70 CE, a massive force of legionnaires, led by the future Emperor Titus, rallied and sacked Jerusalem. In a decisive blow, the Jewish rebellion was quashed. The Sicarii were forced to flee Jerusalem to the safety of a mountain fortress known as Masada.
High above the Judean Desert, the remaining 1000 rebels resisted a force of Roman soldiers boasting numbers ten times as many.
The siege lasted for three long years before the Romans could finally complete an earthen causeway and storm up the mountainside.
When the legionnaires breached Masada's walls, intent punishing the unruly rebels, they found the Sicarii had taken their own lives rather than surrender. Only a collection of scorched buildings were left in the wake.
Though the breadth of the violence was great, and the scope of death overwhelming, the message conveyed by the Sicarii was undeniable:
We will fight for justice, we will fight for what we believe, and we will not give in.
Perhaps there's something to be learned from this tale.
On the surface, the atrocities of war are evident. Violence is an unfortunate component of our human history. There's a deeper lesson, though... a lesson of perseverance.
Perhaps we, too, should fight for what we believe, and refuse to give in to injustice.