Management is a moral task above all. Lives, and people’s well-being, are at stake. In the current frenzy of financial meltdown, with talk of $700bn bail-outs and widespread mortgage foreclosures, it might be as well to remember that.
Maybe I’m just an old Leavsite at heart, but I do like a good morality tale. When news of Paul Newman’s death came in over the weekend, I thought immediately of this superb speech (below) from the film The Verdict (1982, directed by Sidney Lumet, script by David Mamet). If you haven’t seen the film, get hold of a DVD at once.
If you need any persuading of just how good an actor Newman was, compare this rather stark, deceptively quiet text with the shattering performance Newman actually gives. It’s devastating stuff.
[In the film, Newman plays an alcoholic lawyer, Frank Galvin, who sees the chance for redemption in what may be his final case. This speech is his summing up to the jury which comes towards the end of the film.]
You know, so much of the time we’re lost. We say, ‘Please, God, tell us what is right. Tell us what’s true. There is no justice. The rich win, the poor are powerless…’ We become tired of hearing people lie. After a time we become dead. A little dead. We start thinking of ourselves as victims. (pause) And we become victims. (pause) And we become weak…and doubt ourselves, and doubt our institutions…and doubt our beliefs…we say for example, `The law is a sham…there is no law…I was a fool for having believed there was.’ (beat) But today you are the law. You are the law…And not some book and not the lawyers, or the marble statues and the trappings of the court…all that they are is symbols. (beat) Of our desire to be just… (beat) All that they are, in effect, is a prayer…(beat)… a fervent, and a frightened prayer. In my religion we say, `Act as if you had faith, and faith will be given to you.’ (beat) If. If we would have faith in justice, we must only believe in ourselves. (beat) And act with justice. (beat) And I believe that there is justice in our hearts. (beat) Thank you.