These are the two words that Vash the Stampede, the main character of Trigun, bases all of his actions on.
You would think that being an advocate of life, while at the same time being an expert gunman who has an alien-based ability that can literally wipe out an entire city in an instant, Vash would have a more in-depth, descriptive philosophy of how to live his life as responsibly as he can. After all, with great power comes great responsibility. So it shouldn’t be that simple, right? Wouldn’t it be more responsible to create specific rules, such as when it’s appropriate to draw his gun, when he should just lay low, when he should intervene, what calls for action and what doesn’t, etc?
Not to Vash. In fact, it’s as simple as those two words–love and peace. If anything threatens that wherever he happens to be, Vash makes a point to intervene to stop the threat. In fact, there are many times that Vash never draws his gun, but instead ends the tension by pure brilliance and ingenuity.
Some may find the lack of an extensive list of moral rules and guidelines somewhat disturbing, especially for a man with Vash’s abilities. But, ironically, this simple take on life is what actually makes Vash as effective as he is. The reason being that Vash isn’t tied down to anything but love and peace. That’s his moral compass, and with that simplicity comes spontaneity, journey, new relationships, excitement, and even silliness. Could you imagine if Vash had to analyze every situation in relation to a set of rules before he did anything? By the time he figured something out, it would be too late.
However, simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. A motto such as Vash’s could be misconstrued as taking the easy way out, but the scars that cover the majority of his body, as well as his prosthetic arm, prove the contrary. Continuously striving to save others from dangerous situations doesn’t come without risk.
And the interesting thing is, Vash just doesn’t seem to care, as long as love and peace are restored. Even being seen as a fool doesn’t faze him. There are multiple times where people call him demeaning names and brush him off as nuisance since he acts ridiculous and silly during dangerous situations, but in actuality he’s just keeping everyone from shooting each other. He doesn’t need to take credit for anything, and he doesn’t care if he’s seen a certain way. Again, his goal is simple, no matter the situation or position he’s in, and this seems to set him free.
Similarly, this concept of simplicity can be applied to Christianity.
“When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:34-40
Sometimes we Christians get so caught up in rules and traditions, instead of the core message that God wants us to understand and apply to our lives, that we can get to the point where our fixation causes us to remain stagnant, not knowing which way to go, what to believe, or when to act. We have so many “religious rules” to remember that, by the time an opportunity comes up to show God’s love to someone else, it has already gone by. We over-analyze everything we think we need to remember as advocates of God.
It’s an understandable place to be in, because it is in fact a big responsibility to represent God’s love. And, yes, it’s important to continuously strive to learn more about God on a daily basis. Traditions should be respected. History is valuable. But perhaps God didn’t intend for our relationship with Him to be that complicated.
What if we took Vash’s approach and kept it simple? Love God and love others. What if those were the only two rules for being a Christian? What would this lead to as we interact with others and go about our day?
I think that Vash is a good example of what love looks like: a life of spontaneity, adventure, relationships, silliness, freedom, and, overall, action. After all, being a follower and friend of Jesus implies action.