A Serial in Eight Parts
retribution: deserved punishment for evil done.
Retribution Episode 5
“When the west became civilized enough for the lawyers to start plying their trade, a man’s word was gradually replaced by the written contract, and the wording began to take precedence over intent. Now a man’s word means almost nothing. Today, the importance is the ‘letter of the law’. The dots and commas are all important, taking precedence over the intention. I believe we have made a poor trade.
“Not only is a man’s word meaningless today, too many in our society have degenerated to where they make fun of any who places a value on it. The word honor is looked upon with suspicion. People without it make fun of those who possess it. As a result, our society has no honor.”
This was a much darker outlook than what he had in our college days, but life had dealt him a darker hand to play.
We talked about the state of the courts while we watched the serenity of the mountain.
“In the failure of our system of law,” I said, “there has to be some blame given to some pretty terrible interpretations by judges.”
“Yes, but it’s part of the same thing. Zeroing in on some small detail and completely losing sight of the intent of the whole exercise: justice. They also twist and turn things around until the law says what they want, until it fits their political viewpoint. Of course, people have been doing the same thing to the Bible for centuries.”
We fell quiet. Levi got up and walked over to the cliff. I followed and we sat looking down at the north face. I had the feeling there was something that he wanted to bring up, but was hesitating. Maybe the years had made him a little unsure of me also. On the whole though, I was surprised at how relaxed and at peace he seemed.
After a while, we headed west along the ridge and spent an enjoyable afternoon working our way down the mountain, taking the long way. We did not talk much during the afternoon, just short discussions about which routes to take. In the car heading back toward town he turned and asked: “Do you remember Johnny Got His Gun?”
“Sure,” I said. “That’s the one where a soldier during WWI who gets caught in an explosion, loses both arms, both legs, has the bottom of his face blown away and is blinded and deafened.”
“Right. So he can’t hear or see, can’t move, is just a thing lying there on the bed with just his mind. I’ve always thought that would be a terrible, almost unimaginable torture,” he said. “The helplessness of it always made me cringe.”
We drove along in silence for five minutes. I wondered why the thoughts about Johnny Got His Gun.
To be continued