To the pain!
By J.J. Jackson
In the movie The Princess Bride, our hero, Westley, is feeble after recovering from a state of being "mostly dead". What was it that saved him from death? "True love" saved him; his love for Princess Buttercup and a refusal to let go of that love. This love was so pure and so true that while he was on death's door it would not let him slip from the world. Several scenes later he is lying on a bed and quipping about a shortage of perfect breasts as his true love refrains from killing herself only at the sight of the man she thought she would never see again.
He is barely able to move from his ordeal however, as Princess Buttercup soon learns. What follows however is an illustrative scene and a test of wills between someone with faith in something more than himself and a man with only faith in himself. Prince Humperdink, the villain who attempted to kill Westley so that he could marry the Princess, bursts into the room beginning one of the most memorable scenes because of its seriousness in a movie that is mostly known for its comedic plots and humorous dialogue.
Westley is in no shape to fight for the love of his life. But the Princess is the love of his life. So he has no real choice. And besides, it was his faith in his true love that saved him and he knows it so he cannot abandon that now. So Westley makes a stand for what he believes in and challenges the Prince. Prince Humperdink, proclaims that it will be a fight to the death. But Westley quickly corrects him. No, this battle will be not to the death, but "to the pain".
The evil prince is not familiar with such a concept so our hero begins, "I'll explain. And I'll use small words so that you'll be sure to understand, you warthog-faced buffoon."
The Prince is taken back by this considering it the first time that anyone had dared to insult him, at least to his face. Westley has taken him off guard and our hero's faith stuns the Prince, who could easily have killed our hero by now, into inaction. His own faith in himself is shaken at seeing the resolution in Westley.
Our hero taunts, "'To the pain' means the first thing you lose will be your feet, below the ankles, then your hands at the wrists. Next your nose."
Humperdink becomes frustrated at listening to what he considers rambling, "And then my tongue, I suppose. I killed you too quickly the last time, a mistake I don't mean to duplicate tonight."
Westley corrects him telling him that there was more and that, "The next thing you lose will be your left eye, followed by your right –"
The prince is now completely frustrated and makes a bad assumption, "And then my ears, I understand! Let's get on with it -"
"WRONG!," Westley corrects him, "Your ears you keep, and I'll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out, 'Dear God, what is that thing?' will echo in your perfect ears. That is what 'to the pain' means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever."
Humperdink after hearing all of this is even more frightened. Someone is standing up to him. He thinks this man before him is too feeble to confront him but the conviction and strength in Westley's voice has him on his heals. "I think you're bluffing," the prince cockily proclaims but makes no move.
Westley then plays into his claims. "It's possible, pig. I might be bluffing. It's conceivable, you miserable vomitous mass, that I'm only lying here because I lack the strength to stand. Then again, perhaps I have the strength after all." Then he does something that Humperdink does not expect and that frightens him so greatly that the entire confrontation turns on it. Up until now everything from Westley's mouth has been just words. But slowly Westley lifts himself off the bed through sheer force of will, lifts the point of his sword towards the prince and says in a measured and menacing tone, "Drop - your - sword."
Humperdink, so frightened that he probably needed a change of tights at this point, drops his sword and is then tied up by the Princess. After he is secure, an exhausted Westley slumps down and prince Humperdink proclaims that he knew Westley was bluffing. The problem is he "knew it" too late.
Why on Earth am I recounting this scene from The Princess Bride for you in a space reserved for political commentary? Because there is a correlation between what happened in this scene and what is going on right now in America. Anyone who has seen this movie knows that the only reason Westley was put in a situation of being "mostly dead" in the first place was because his love made a bargain to, so she thought, save him. But that bargain was never kept by the wicked men the deal was made with.
The wicked never keep their word because, no matter how much they protest, they have no honor.
Over the years we too have made bargains with the honorless and wicked to try and save someone that we love; Lady Liberty. But time and again we have been betrayed by those with sinister motives and that are desirous of power much like Prince Humperdink. We have betrayed our ideals too many times in the name of noble goals, but goals that cannot be reached through coercion and bad policy.
Increasing home ownership in America is a noble goal. But the means by which we attempted to do so was to force people into making bad loans to bad risks. We have forced Lady Liberty to her knees and placed American Idealism on death's door in a state of being "mostly dead". But she survived because what she represents is too pure to be killed by the villains among us.
Even though she has survived though, she is weak. But this week, as she lay on the bed with the enemy hovering over her, she called them out and brought them to her knees finding enough strength to stand and face down those that want to kill America once and for all.
Last week, Lady Liberty stood up and proudly proclaimed to the enemies of freedom and the accountability that comes with it, that she was challenging them to a battle not to the death, but to "the pain." Because we are going to have pain now whether we like it or not. There is no escaping that fact. We are going to have pain because of the villains that we have allowed to rule us for far too long and they are not willing to back down and have once again saddled us, the American taxpayer, with billions in debt.
Unlike in The Princess Bride however there will not be just one great confrontation, "to the pain," to end it all. We will have to constantly challenge the enemies of liberty to battles, "to the pain," for months and perhaps decades to come. And we must win each one or suffer the consequences.
In so winning these battles, we must leave those villains that we face disfigured by the roadside with their own "perfect ears" so that they can hear those that pass by mocking them and their failures and asking loudly, "Dear God, what is that thing?". Leaving the disfigured stump of socialism by the roadside to remind everyone of how it fails and how it needs to be defeated is the only way to make people remember the "pain" we have suffered under it.
But if we don't? Then they will kill Lady Liberty once and for all. But at least today Lady Liberty is standing and commanding the foes of freedom to, "Drop - their - swords." And I will stand with her and proudly proclaim that I am willing to battle, "to the pain," because as long as I feel pain I am reminded that I am alive and that I will be free or die trying.
J.J. Jackson is a libertarian conservative author from Pittsburgh, PA who has been writing and promoting individual liberty since 1993 and is President of Land of the Free Studios, Inc. He is the lead editor contributor to American Conservative Daily and also the founder of SignalCongress.com. He is the owner of The Right Things - Conservative T-shirts & Gifts. His weekly commentary along with exclusives not available anywhere else can be found at http://www.libertyreborn.com.
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