The “other” is a universal term that can be used for any category of person we have chosen to place the “versus” mentality against in our own lives. It could be the minivan plastered with their children’s honor roll achievements to rub in your face that cut you off on the jam-packed freeway. Possibly it’s the guy at work who repeatedly says, “Beep beep, what’s going on, [enter name of whoever he’s walking by]?” Or maybe it’s the Taco Bell employee who had you sit at the speaker box for five minutes without greeting you and then handed you the completely wrong order at the window.

Sure, these may be too specific. Sure, they might be own personal list of “others” whom I have written on my list of enemies. But perhaps you can glean from it your own proclivity to find the hostile enemy of yours in your day to day. That’s the idea. We all find a way to pick a team and point at the other side as the hostiles.

Army Captain Joseph Blocker, played by Christian Bale in the movie Hostiles, is one who is all too familiar with this way of thinking. This is a movie set in 1892, during the tension between colonial settlers and the Native American tribes. The self-righteousness and desire to look down at others from our works-based podium is mirrored in the first opening scenes.

We witness a family doing what appears to be their daily routines when, all of a sudden, a group of “savages” rushes in to steal, kill, and destroy. The family makes a run for it while the father stays back to defend. Unfortunately, the father is not spared. The family doesn’t make it over the hill before the two daughters drop dead, shot from behind. The mother escapes only to find the baby in her arms caught a bullet. Depressing opening scene, right? It closes out with the hostiles riding away with the family’s horses while the farm and house burns in the background.

Normally this would paint the picture of the villain. We now know who the enemy is, right? Well, the following scene shows another perspective: settlers surround a Native American while trying to lasso him. Meanwhile his wife and daughter are screaming and crying as they watch. The question begins to brew as the audience begins to wonder who the true villains of this story are. Who are the hostiles?

Self-righteousness and “versus” mentality is found in all of us, but as the veil gets pulled off of us we begin to see that maybe we are all equally hostiles. It’s easy to look at the “other” and see them as the culprit of wrongdoing. It’s much more difficult to look in the mirror and see our transgressions. We hate the law because it shows us who we are, but if we don’t see the law’s declaration we don’t see the grace waiting to greet us. Captain Blocker is forced to figure this truth out as his colonel orders him to transport a Cheyenne war chief back to his people to die freely. This same chief Captain Blocker has witnessed murder and slaughter his friends and fellow soldiers. He retorts to his colonel, “He is a monster.” To which the colonel replies, “You guys should get along then.”

This same chief also watched Captain Blocker kill his people as well. Blocker is confronted with the possibility he might be cut from the same cloth, as he travels with his so-called enemy.

Slowly, through time shared and a couple bonding events, the characters realize that we all might be hostiles who need to receive grace rather than cling to our self-righteous tribes. Being attacked by other natives and fighting together helped make it evident. Captain Blocker ends up turning on his own tribe to protect these hostiles turned friendlies now. The last scene shows him leaving his tribe behind, to join the widow from the beginning of the movie and the adopted native child on a train, headed to their new life as hostiles together.

We are not far off from the characters in this film. Of course, our time and setting is different. Our political and economic situations are drastically different. But our human nature is still dramatically the same. We are still picking sides, choosing enemies and hating the “other.” We are still pointing out hostiles and ignoring the shiny mirror which mocks us. And if we see that, there is an opportunity we might meet the friendly force of grace waiting to mend the hostility we find within ourselves. Thankfully there is a voice above all the other voices that are pointing fingers at each other and declaring others as the enemy. There is a voice that not only recognizes us all as hostiles, regardless of how right we think we are, but also loves us, regardless of how wrong we all are. The sweet voice of the gospel calls all of us hostiles to come, to stop pointing fingers, and to be loved.