Sunday, January 27, 2013

Judge for yourself

I noted the reference made by Talwant Singh, Member (Judicial), E-Committee of Supreme Court of India, to a quote made by Hunter S Thompson ( ) recently:  “We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws.” Quite refreshing to see a senior public figure conversing in a language and using references understood by ordinary man and woman in the street. A few members of the British Judiciary I can recall in my life time over the last 50 years who were spoken about that endeavoured to keep that common touch: Lord Denning, Lord Wilberforce, Lord Woolf, Lord Bingham. I did hear from a few barristers, they thought, that Lord Justice Judge had endeavoured to make a good fist of it in keeping the lines of communication open. There are no doubt many others that are not on my radar but might be on yours. Have a look at wikipedia and see if there are any there that you know?

A barrister with a common touch whose work I learned about at school and on television (when I was growing up) was Edward Marshall Hall ( ).  So worth having a read about his work, too.

I have digressed slighly, sorry, from what I originally set out to say. So turning back to that intended topic, but non-judicial thought this time, that is this is not the first time a man from India has endeavoured to communicate with people from all walks of life. You may think I would reference Mahatma Gandi ( ) at this stage, and that would be an excellent reference choice to make, but, no, I have someone else in mind: Joseph Rudyard Kipling ). Kipling wrote that great and wonderful poem 'IF'. A poem that might rightly take its place in learning materials for school children. This poem teaches a wide range of communications skills (used in the english language) and social skills and at the same time seeks to empower each person to be an individual, keep inner strength, and at the same time not lose personal identity and values. Importantly, it defines that anyone should be able to talk with anyone no matter who they are.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Lastly, because maintaining a common touch is an important life skill, there is something else about the poem 'If' which has an interesting reference. According to the Kipling Society, Rudyard Kipling knew Cecil Rhodes, Lord Milner and Dr Jameson ( ) and it is the qualities of these men that inspired the peom 'IF'. Why might this be of interest? Messrs Milner and co were sent on an errand to South Africa as the British Government had received word that some British land and mine owners had allowed their avarice and greedy to get so out of control they had decended into total loss of control of their positions, property and money. When Lord Milner and entourage arrived at site the owners were living in the servants' sheds in drunkenness, filth and depravity, whilst the servants were living in the owners' mansions, wearing the owners clothes and spending their money. Milner looked to immediately establish a refreshment on education for these land and mine owners and took skills taught at Toynbee Hall in the EastEnd of London. Toynbee Hall it is known is renowned for it educational principles and later adopted by Hull House in Chicago. Hull House, as you may know, formed the first edcuational programme that later became the foundation for the Open University. Milner's work resulted in the education programme in South Africa being called the 'Kindergarten', which taught that even rulers need humility if they are to communicate with people they expect will serve them. It does make me wonder whether Milner, Rhodes and Jameson had sought observations from Kipling learned from his life skills and whether the poem 'IF' contains elements from conversations which Rudyard Kipling had with these men due to their friendship?

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