Two Important Lessons from James J. Braddock – Cinderella Man (2005)

When we fight an opponent of any size, we have to ask ourselves, are we fighting because we hate what’s ahead of us or are we fighting to protect what is behind us?

It’s important to know the difference, my Dear Heroes, because the ocean between those two viewpoints is deep and dangerous.

As I release this episode of Think Spiritual Podcasts, it is mid-May 2020. We are approximately ten weeks into the COVID-19 lockdown that much of the world is experiencing and I know that many people are feeling that they have to “do” something about what is going on.

But I have to ask you the question: What are you going to do about it?

Are you going to go out and fight this virus hand-to-hand?

Are you out to prove that it’s just a massive hoax invented to control people?

Are you going to storm the Whitehouse or Parliament?

Are you going to march with your automatic weapon and make statements such as, “only from my cold, dead hands!”?

Are you going to demand that you or someone else be put in charge of everything?

Let’s say that you do one of those things and let’s imagine that you’re successful in your task and that you achieve the results you want.

Is the world going to get any better? Is anything actually going to change? If so, how long will that change last? Are you going to know what to do with yourself when your task is complete?

Perhaps I have a bit of a pessimistic and fatalistic outlook, but I don’t believe that anything will change if you’re constantly battling external problems. Alright, let me phrase that a little less bluntly:

I don’t believe anything will change immediately. Change is always happening, but it’s always slow and it’s always generation by generation. If you want something to change now, you’re going to have to give your life to that cause.

But unless you have that drive, vision, plan of action and to-the-death commitment, your ability to change anything external is limited.

In these times of trouble and trial you have to know who your true enemy is and I promise you that it’s not somewhere out there in the physical world. No, my dear Heroes, the greatest enemy to overcome is always the one within.


Hello, Spiritual Seekers, and welcome to a slightly different episode of Think Spiritual Podcasts. As always, I’m your host, Mark.

Today I want to take a look at the movie, Cinderella Man, which may seem like an odd movie to choose to analyze. Which is why I’m not going to analyze it – well, not to any great length or depth.

Instead, I want to examine the two timely messages that Cinderella Man contains for us in these times of quarantine and economic downturn.

Cinderella Man is definitely what most people would consider to be a “good” movie. It’s inspiring, it’s hopeful and it’s unbelievably close to the real events of James J. Braddock’s life – probably one of the most accurate “based on a true story” movies I’ve ever seen.

The most fictitious aspect of the film is the portrayal of heavyweight boxer, Max Baer. He’s shown as being an arrogant brute of a man who has no regard for anything or anyone other than himself. In real life, Max Baer was a very caring and generous man with a wicked sense of humour and zest for life.

But, as I stated during the introduction to this episode, the greatest enemy we have to battle is the one within. Max Baer was portrayed in a negative manner in order to represent James Braddock’s own pride and ego that he had to overcome – which is a mirror of our personal pride and ego.

James probably felt that life had treated him unfairly.

We often feel that life treats us unfairly.

James probably felt that Max Baer’s fame and fortune should have been his.

We often feel that someone else’s fame and fortune should be ours.

James feels humiliated when he has to go on social assistance and practically has to beg his old boxing associates for financial help.

We often feel humiliated when we need to ask for help.

James’ manager, Joe Gould, has to sell everything he owns and act like everything is okay just to “keep up appearances”.

How often do we act like everything is just fine so we aren’t a “burden” to others around us?

James’ friend, Mike Wilson, is angry and wants to blame something and fight something because he feels so helpless and powerless due to the Great Depression.

Once again, haven’t we all felt this way? How often have we wanted to blame something or someone for all of our problems? How often do we feel powerless and helpless? How often do we want to run out and protest and fight?

Cinderella Man addresses these questions and problems with two messages:

You can’t hit what you can’t see.


Know what you’re fighting for.

We can fight external enemies, we can foment violence and create disorder. We can wave placards and march and sign petitions and build blockades and raise money and educate the masses, but…

It will all be for nothing if we can’t see what we’re really fighting and if we don’t know what we’re actually fighting for.

The world’s problems are too big for us to see clearly. We have to tackle the smaller issues that are right in front of us first.

Jim Braddock was fighting opponents he could actually see and hit for milk, for food, and a roof over his family’s head.

Do we really need to fight for more than that in our physical, daily existence?

Well, yes, we do need a little more than that if we want genuine change in the world. We need more emotionally and spiritually awakened people and we only get those as each of us fight those deep, inner wars.

Now, I’m not saying we should be in constant battle with our Self – that’s not healthy nor sustainable – but we do need to connect some knockout punches to our inner demons that cause us to hurt ourselves and others around us.

Arrogance, addictions, aggressive outbursts, constant anxiety, uncontrolled anger, codependency, unconscious hedonism…how many things do I have to list here? I think you get the idea. You know what your personal worst enemies are.

I believe our goal in life should be to attain peace between our Ego and our True Self, but we do have a lot of opponents to overcome and/or make peace with before we get there.

If we don’t do the deep and difficult inner work of dealing with our pains, our traumas, our addictions, our strife and end our constant internal battles, the outer world is never going to change because the outer world is merely reflecting what our inner world plays on its stage.

Lasting change will never take hold until more of us can be at real and lasting peace with our True Self. When the outer world matches that inner world…well…now that’s a world worth changing and fighting for, my Dear Heroes.

You have all the weapons and knowledge you need within you. I’ll see you on the next episode of Think Spiritual Podcasts.

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