Accountability Stories


One of the hit films of 2000 was Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe. The film centres on the Roman General Maximus, a man who holds onto his integrity at all costs.

Just before his death Marcus Aurelius tells Maximus of his dream that power be returned to the people and asks Maximus to become the Protector of Rome who ensures this is achieved. Maximus responds that he cannot do this, for he is never live din Rome, nor is he of Senatorial rank. Besides, he doesn’t want power. He simply wants to get home from the war and resume life with his family on his farm. Aurelius replies “It is precisely because you don’t want it that you must take it.” Aurelius sees Maximus’ integrity.

This integrity stands in stark contrast to Aurelius’ power hungry son Commodius, who will do anything to gain the title of Emperor, even murdering his father.

Seeing Maximus as a potential rival Commodius orders him, his wife and his young son murdered. Maximus escapes, but is unable to save his family. He is captured, sold into slavery and forced to fight as a gladiator. He fights with vastly superior ability to everyone he meets in the ring and eventually comes to Rome where he grows famous among the people. Once his true identity is revealed his fame again makes him a rival to the Emperor. Commodius’ rivals, who like Aurelius wish to restore power to the people, plot to have Maximus released from slavery and returned to his army, whereupon he will march on Rome, take it, restore power to the Senate, then leave. As was Marcus Aurelius, so these senators are so confident in Maximus’ integrity they know he will walk away from power having gained it.

At the climax of the film Commodius himself fights the Gladiator Maximus with both killed and power thus restored to the people.

What holds the key to Maximus’ integrity. It is revealed early in the film where he cries to his troops, “What we do in this life leaves echoes in eternity”.

Under the Gaze of Christ

Have you ever driven by a highly polluted area and wondered what can be done to stop people dumping their rubbish? At the turn of the Millennium Peru city authorities tried a novel approach. Some of the streets in the capital city were scarred by terrible littering – people even stopping to urinate in the streets. The authorities responded by placing pictures of Jesus and Mary on the walls of buildings lining the most polluted streets. Why? Because the people of Peru are, on the whole, committed to Roman Catholicism. The authorities have found that people are far less likely to litter the streets under the gaze of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.


Source: based on Reuters News Story January 2001.

Casualties of War

The movie Casualties of War tells the true story of a squad of soldiers which fought in the Vietnam War. While there they both saw and participated in some terrible crimes. One of their crimes was to abduct and rape a young Vietnamese girl. The lead role in the film is played by Michael J. Fox. He takes on the character of a Private Erikson, a soldier who is part of the squad but didn’t join in the abduction and rape. As he struggles with what has happened, he says to the other men in his squad, “Just because each of us might at any second be blown away, we’re acting like we can do anything we want, as though it doesn’t matter what we do. I’m thinking it’s just the opposite. Because we might be dead in the next split second, maybe we gotta be extra careful what we do. Because maybe it matters more. Maybe it matters more that we ever know.”