Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Editorials

March 25, 2010

The Drapery

(Continued)



The culmination of my training was law school, when the objective was to operate in a climate of skepticism and doubt. What exactly are the facts of the case? What can we infer from those facts? What can we prove? And what is the legal significance of these things? For it is there, in that adversative system, that whatever you take to be the case will be contested and judged by somebody else, and you have to be ready for that. Thus, you have to open your mind repeatedly to the possibility that you are mistaken or that your client is mistaken or that a witness is mistaken or that a judge is mistaken. Perhaps I chose to study the law because it offered such a vigorous bath for my mind and left me wary of all seeming.

Yet all along the way, I never forgot episodes in my life when I misjudged people and discovered they had lied to me or betrayed me or harbored grievances against me. A man learns from these mistakes and gradually makes himself less vulnerable to them – perhaps by avoiding people altogether or perhaps by regarding other people with suspicion. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” It takes a person who is either very strong or very stupid to remain vulnerable and expose himself again and again to the risk of being wrong. It takes a whole mountain to forgive. In brief, you don’t need a law degree to develop a wary disposition.

Ultimately, a life spent distrusting the evidence, vigilant against unforeseen hazards, forever at play in the mind imagining the world this way and that, facile with theory and fearful of fact -- such a life reduces to anxiety, both as pathology and dysfunction, or it escapes into madness, like a spaceship free from earth's gravity and floating easily in a cold and colorless vacuum that has no end.





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