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Evolving Perspectives

Once upon a time, when I was a law student, I remember so loving this quote by President Eisenhower, from his Military-Industrial Complex speech: "The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield."

Come to the table. Work it out. Get angry, express that, get frustrated, express that. But don't walk away, don't give up, don't stop the conversation. There are so many "battle/battlefield" metaphors about practicing law that the quote seemed to fit the way I was thinking about things, and I found the "table" to be a nice alternative. Also, litigation is brutal and it's rare anybody gets through it feeling like a winner, even if they win. I thought if you can get enough done at the table, then you can avoid the battlefield, and that it was possible (in the context of law practice, not war) to reasonably choose the battlefield. Lately though, I really have been losing faith in my perspective because I frequently feel so alone in valuing "coming to the table."


Today, years later, burdened by frustration and hopelessness brought on by a variety of encounters with meaning less bureaucracy, I came across this quote by William Faulkner from "The Sound and The Fury." It's like it was put in my path on purpose: "Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools."

I've been reading that and thinking, "That's so true," for hours. The question on my mind: Do I agree to the folly and despair and agony of the battlefield by coming to the table in the first place?

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