Anyone tuning in to their weekly dose of Doctor Who this past Saturday, may have been in for a surprise. A moving and heart wrenching speech by the Doctor (played by Peter Capaldi) towards the end of the episode was tweeted, talked about and quoted from numerous times in the following days. The Radio Times even asked the question: Is this Peter Capaldi’s greatest moment as the Doctor?’
Now, like me, you may not be an avid Doctor Who watcher – I admit I used to be one but not any more, much to my brother’s dismay – and are not really sure what all the fuss is about. But having gone back and watched it, it is an amazing testament to the dilemma we find ourselves in, in a world where war, poverty and an immigration crisis are at the forefront.
The background story is of an alien race coming to earth and seeking refuge. The Doctor persuades the humans to take them in. A small rogue group of aliens decide they aren’t being treated fairly by the humans and then choose to use a deterrent that the Doctor left for them in case peace was threatened. But he also left one for the humans too, and the speech comes where both groups are determined to use their weapons.
A character, Bonnie, one of the injured aliens intent on seeking revenge claims: “It’s not fair!”
The Doctor replies: “Cruelty begets cruelty.” He states with ferocity that being cruel in retaliation doesn’t make the aliens superior, it just makes them another new group of cruel people. The speech focuses on the crucial point of the cycle of war – of a weapon being used without knowing the effects and devastating consequences it can have on the earth.
“When you fire that first shot. No matter how right you feel, you have no idea who’s going to die. You don’t know who’s children are going to scream and burn. Or how many hearts will be broken. How many lives shattered. How much blood splattered until everybody does what they were always going to have to do right from the very beginning: SIT. DOWN. AND. TALK.”
As speeches go, this has been described as the most powerful anti-war speech to come out of a TV programme in a long time. And it’s all the more pertinent in time of conflict happening all over the world.
And then, the most powerful part of the whole speech: “You’re all the same, you screaming kids, you know that? ‘Look at me, I’m unforgivable.’ Well here’s the unforeseeable, I forgive you. After all you’ve done. I forgive you.”
Is this a picture of God’s heart for us? It could almost be Him speaking. Because ultimately we can’t forgive others until we forgive ourselves. And God our creator, who sent His only son to pay for our sin, the creator of the world, has forgiven us. For everything we have done and everything we will ever do.
War, whether it be between countries or relationships or in our minds, is a vicious cycle. And, as the Doctor expressed, it can only start with forgiveness. In the midst of rage and passion it can be easy to forget that God’s command is to forgive others as He has forgiven us.
God has been speaking to me lately about winning the daily battles. The war in my head that brings thoughts that I am unforgivable, that others in my life have wronged me, a look or action that causes hurt or anger. Maybe the victory in battle is choosing to forgive myself, choosing to forgive others and reaching out in love even when I’m hurt. Talking it through with God and laying it all at His cross. Because in this war, He is the victor.
No matter what we’ve done, God’s heart is to bless us. Maybe we needed that reminder- after all we’ve done, He forgives us.