Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Recognition of a Bribe

I was channel surfing and found another old movie, “A Man For All Seasons”, in progress about 15 minutes from the beginning. Sir Thomas More was sitting in a row boat holding some sort of silver chalice while the oarsman ferried him home. Upon reading the inscription on the bottom of the chalice Sir Thomas recognized it for what it was, a bribe, and dropped it into the water whereupon the oarsman quickly retrieved it and reminded Sir Thomas that it was worth quite a bit of money.

When the boat reached the landing a young man who’d stayed up all the night greeted Sir Thomas and explained that it was his intention to have an audience with the court, through the influence of Sir Thomas. An opportunity had presented itself and Sir Thomas asked why such a bright young man wouldn’t be happier in a teaching role as opposed to a position with the court. The young man wanted recognition and power and saw none of those in the lowly position of being a teacher.

Sir Thomas showed the silver chalice to him, one he’d no intention of keeping, “This is a bribe”. The young man was blank and waiting for an explanation. Sir Thomas read the inscription aloud to indicate that the giver of the chalice was the same as one who had business before the court. He handed the chalice to the young man and asked, “Here, it’s yours. What will you do with it.”

“I will sell it and buy some nicer clothing”, or something to the effect as he admired the chalice in his hands.

A man should avoid placing himself in the way of temptation”, was the rebuke Sir Thomas gave as a warning to the young man. The chalice represented but a small bribe; the power and popularity of being a member of “court” was temptation beyond the ability of most and so the corruption that followed was no surprise.

I had to go do some work and missed out on watching the rest of the movie. Making a living sure gets in the way of entertaining myself on the sofa; why couldn’t I have a job in Washington where I could fritter away my time and get paid all the same? Or I could get elected to some local office, have seats to all the games in one of those fancy private boxes, lobster and steak brought to me instead of day old hot dogs on stale buns, and have a chauffeur drop me off when ever and where ever at the click of my fingers. Better still, I could be elected to a seat in Austin and have even more attention, get even less done and have a larger expense account.

Never mind that the issue of eminent domain has not been resolved, that school finance has not been resolved, that pay raises for judges and …; I forgot, that one passed.

Maybe I’m better off being a locksmith who has time enough to write articles and post them on my blogsite. Thank you, Sir Thomas, for reminding me; for teaching me to recognize a bribe in its varied forms.

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