"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known."
Ring a bell? Well if you're a reader of classic literature you should definitely recognize it. But if you've seen the latest Batman movie it will also be familiar. So that covers just about everyone! I got chills when I heard this quote read in The Dark Knight Rises. Probably because this quote is from Charles Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities, which is one of my very favorite books. And also because the character that speaks these moving lines is one of the neatest, Sydney Carton. And also due to the fact the chapter in which this quote comes from is incredibly moving. It's the last scene of the book and let's just say the tears are flowing at that point!
I will do my best to quickly sum up a complicated, beautiful, and tragic story in just a few sentences. Sydney Carton is a drunk and crude man who is wasting his life and money away on the streets of revolutionary Paris (of course, the book is French. Like everything else I adore!). He falls in love with a woman named Lucy. Ultimately she picks another man, but her love changes Sydney. He becomes a good man again. When Lucy's new husband is unjustly sentenced to die at the Guillotine, Sydney bravely takes his place to die so that his true love can live in happiness. He says, "it is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known" as he is standing at the entrance of the prison about to be lead to his death. It's a story about redemption, courage, and love. Plus a lot of other themes and plots that make this book amazing.
I find it interesting that Sydney Carton's final words were read at the "funeral" of Bruce Wayne. A man who gave up a great deal so that others could have happiness and safety. I guess the idea of sacrifice has been on my mind lately. Giving something up for the benefit of others. I'm not talking about service where you dole out expendable things. But rather deep rooted causes that ignite something in your soul. Sydney Carton and Bruce Wayne are examples of extremity. We're rarely faced with opportunities to die for the ones we love. Or don a mask and give our lives to protect our city.
These are both made up people, but still reflect things exemplified by many. I look back at the figures I have studied in history. The characters I love from books. Relatives from my ancestry. People alive today, both that I know personally and from from observation. Many, many people have been faced with difficult decisions, and have chosen very selflessly for the sake of others. Not necessarily death, either. Some have made the choice to live for a cause. That can often be just as hard as losing your life. Most likely a lot of people are fighting battles that can't be seen by the outside world, but are real and important to the people around them and bear large consequences.
Maybe I'll never be in a situation to sacrifice significantly for a better thing than I ever have before. I guess it's impossible to say, but I do wonder what my choice would be... perhaps it never will come, but I can make sure the little things I do on a daily basis are building my character enough to be the type of person that could sacrifice for the things I deeply care about.
Moral of this post: do your life a favor and read A Tale of Two Cities! It will inspire you.