Friday, October 21, 2011

Isivivable Are Among Women

When I was a boy, I saw Al Pacino in  . . . And Justice for All. Inspired by the film, I decided to be a lawyer when I grew up.

I was good with words, so everyone encouraged that. My mom, who always seemed to be convinced that one had to be handsome to be a lawyer (and seeing through the complimentary glasses that are standard-mom-issue), was sure that I was a double-threat.

What I saw in that film was a guy who was willing to sacrifice a career for what was right -- a guy who saw the flaws in the legal system and decided to stand up against them ("You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order!"), whatever the cost. The drama of this appealed to me, too -- as did the dramatic element of arguing a case in front of an audience.

(I was always actorish. I still am. I read to my kids and do voices for every character -- that sort of thing. My one stint on the stage was as Hamlet, in college. I kid you not, though I'm not sure how good I was. [Clearly, I have always tended to jump right in.] At the very least, I learned a little about fencing.)

So, the film swept me up. But when I learned that law was a little less Pacinoesque, I turned aside from the idea of becoming a lawyer and moved on to the more fertile fields of Musicland.

My thoughts on community the other day sent me into the labyrinth while I was driving today and I started to think of how we condition kids ("community is good" ) and it got me thinking about "The Pledge of Allegiance."

I used to read it on the PA of my school every morning. When I did, I got some complaints. Some teachers said I wasn't saying it right -- that the kids couldn't follow because (essentially) I wasn't reading it mechanically. I was phrasing it to make sense and that, apparently, was distracting.


Once, in church as a kid, I sat behind an old lady who was saying the "Hail Mary." She was doing the rosary and she kept saying "blessed are among women." I couldn't help wonder how she could mean what she was saying when what she was saying made no sense to her.

We learn these things as kids: prayers and pledges. But we learn them before we are capable of understanding their weight. We pledge allegiance to a country before we know what it means to pledge allegiance -- or even what a country is.

Well, I remembered "The Pledge of Allegiance" being in . . . And Justice for All and I remembered how the kids clearly didn't understand what they were saying. Listen to them; you can hear it in the trailer here:

Watching this sort of tore me in half. I became that kid again, for a minute ("Maybe I should have been a lawyer . . ." ) and, at the same time, I was the cynical adult ("This is how the system of government and law smashes good, well-intentioned people. . .) who heard kids being indoctrinated into a carnivorous system they couldn't understand.

Lately, I have been walking around feeling like a guy in a horror movie who sees the ghost no one else does. I see a world that has built its structure and I see us all crawling over the bars and joints of that structure, like hive-minded insects. This feeling is more than rebellion and less than the workings of a mind that's plotting to build a cabin in the Yukon.

I see the brainwashing going on, but I also see the need for order. But when those kids say words of commitment and lifelong dedication that they don't understand, it chills my blood. I suppose the sane minority is always going to look insane and there is nothing that can be done . . .

 . . . nothing but to create one's own place and to work at being left alone.

And here I am, sitting on the steps of the Hall of Justice, getting greeted by one of the "sane":

There sure is somethin' funny goin' on.

1 comment:

  1. "I see the brainwashing going on, but I also see the need for order."
    The battle between order, and individuality, it rages on...Funny thing is, I don't see a battle here, I see a demand for order from people who dont want that order questioned. I'm not saying things are built in a conspiracy theory sort of way. What I mean to say is, though order is important, I believe it would be easier to attain through open debate and spread of why things are better done a certain way, not a mentality of "this is how its done...just do it. Dont question it, I'm in charge because I'm older, better educated, etc..."