Tuesday, June 26, 2007

And Now for Something Completely Different

From A Man for All Seasons, by Robert Bolt

Setting - Sir Thomas More has declined to employ Richard Rich, who has just left the room.

Wife: Arrest him!
More: For what?
Wife: He's dangerous!
Roper: For all we know he's a spy!
Daughter: Father, that man's bad!
More: There's no law against that!
Roper: There is, God's law!
More: Then let God arrest him!
Wife: While you talk he's gone!
More: And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?
This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down (and you're just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

My husband sent me this. They've been playing AMfaS a great deal, probably to cash in on Showtime's The Tudors (history by way of Danielle Steele, first Rome now Tudor England. American Civil War next, perhaps?). The power of Bolt's language met by the force of Paul Scofield's acting (one of the few avowed Method actors I really enjoy). What Bolt knew, and perhaps Thomas Moore as well is that you do not solve the world's evils by thinking anyone is outside the protection of the law. Timely? Perhaps...
And the law is protection. It's easy to forget that. Protection for us and for "Them." I am reminded of the true meaning of manners, well encapsulated in that other bit of fluff--"Blast From the Past."
Troy: ... He said, good manners are just a way of showing other people we have respect for them. See, I didn't know that, I thought it was just a way of acting all superior. Oh and you know what else he told me?
Eve: What?
Troy: He thinks I'm a gentleman and you're a lady.
Eve: [disgusted] Well, consider the source! I don't even know what a lady is.
Troy: I know, I mean I thought a "gentleman" was somebody that owned horses. But it turns out, his short and simple definition of a lady or a gentleman is, someone who always tries to make sure the people around him or her are as comfortable as possible.

Adam: Manners are a way of showing other people we care about them.

People forget that today. That laws and manners are to protect others as well as ourselves in the hopes that they will in turn do the same for you. And if they do not you should rise above them. Sound familiar? The Golden Rule AND Turn the Other Cheek.

If one person's right to a fair trial is violated, then who gets one? If we torture because "they do it to our boys," then what have we become?

I haven't done politics on here for the same reason I have avoided religion. Not because I do not care, but because I care so deeply I don't want to trivialize it and I fear that I am not qualified, but when I can use other, greater words, I will.

John Adams, who defended British soldiers in the Boston massacre for the same reason as Moore stated also said:

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.

It is important to remember that the law is not lawyers, any more than God is his followers.

No comments: