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The Seasons of our Discontent

thomas_more1I received the following email in response to my article last week about Donald Trump and Tony Soprano.  I think it’s well worth posting here:

Dear Rabbi,

His point was that Donald Trump’s crude, impulsive, petty, and narcissistic behavior has no bearing on his fitness for office.

As I read these words in your email, a scene from the 1966 movie A Man for All Seasons came to my mind. The scene occurs at the beginning of the film between Cardinal Wolsey (Orson Welles) and Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield). This whole scene, all of it worth quoting and so marvelously acted, is one of my favorite “duets” in all movies but I’ll limit myself to the quote below. .

Let the dynasty die with Henry Vlll
and we’ll have dynastic wars again.
Blood-witted barons ramping the country
from end to end.
Is that what you want? Very well.
England needs an heir.
Certain measures, perhaps regrettable…
…perhaps not, there’s much in the Church
which needs reformation, Thomas.
All right, regrettable.
But necessary to get us an heir.
Now, explain how you, as a councillor
of England, can obstruct these measures
for the sake of your own private conscience.

I think that when statesmen forsake
their own private conscience
for the sake of their public duties
they lead their country
by a short route to chaos.

Your usually clear headed good friend is willing to jettison his own private conscience for the sake of political expediency. Millions of other Americans who are also willing to do so are leading our country by a short route to chaos.

Paul-Muni-Emile-Zola-The-Life-of-Emile-ZolaYour statement

The Hitlers, Stalins, and Ahmadinejads of the world may love their children and may have had troubled youths, but evil remains evil whether we choose to look it in the face or to bury our heads in the sand

likewise brought to my mind an excerpt from the 1936 movie The Life of Emil Zola, delivered by Zola (played by the incomparable Paul Muni) during Zola’s trial which came about because of Zola’s accusations against the army with regard to the injustice of the Dreyfus affair:

The minister of war,
the chief of the general staff…
…and the assistant chief never doubted
that the famous bordereau…
…was written by Esterhazy…
…but the condemnation of Esterhazy
involved revision of the Dreyfus verdict…
…and that the general staff
wished to avoid at all cost.
For over a year, the minister of war
and the general staff have known…
…that Dreyfus is innocent…
…but they have kept this knowledge
to themselves.
And those men sleep…
…and they have wives
and children they love.

Evil, depravity and mediocrity come in all shapes and sizes. When we are willing to dispense with our own moral consciences and standards in support of  that evil for whatever reason we have permitted ourselves to become one with that evil and become just as guilty.


Bill Meisler


  1. chithankalai says:

    Yonason Thought provoking article… We do study history but never learn from it. Today is my birthday, Yonason. Please wish me. And I would like to get in touch with this gentleman ; Bill Meisler. Is that possible, Sir?


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