Vermont Bar Journal, Vol. 40, No. 2 Vermont Bar Journal, Spring 2017, Volume 43, No. 1 - Page 35

ever, the girl’s father was left handed and known to have a very bad temper. Further, no medical evidence was introduced that showed the girl was ever raped. Jem was elated until the verdict came. After several hours of deliberation the jury found Tom Robinson guilty. Jem was crushed at the obvious injustice. Atticus explained to the distraught Jem that a jury would usually take only a few minutes to convict Tom—a black man accused of raping a white woman. But this jury took hours. “You might like to know that there was one fellow who took considerable wearing down—in the beginning he was rarin’ for an outright acquittal.” “Who?” Jem was astonished. Atticus’s eyes twinkled. “It’s not for me to say, but I’ll tell you this much. He was one of your Old Sarum friends…” “One of the Cunninghams?” Jem yelped. “One of—I didn’t recognize any of ‘em…you’re jokin.” He looked at Atticus from the corners of his eyes. “One of their connections. On a hunch, I didn’t strike him. Just on a hunch. Could’ve, but I didn’t.” “Golly Moses,” Jem said reverently. “One minute they’re tryin’ to kill him and the next they’re tryin’ to turn him loose”… Atticus said… “it took a thunderbolt plus another Cunningham to make one of them change his mind. If we’d had two of that crowd, we’d’ve had a hung jury.” (To Kill a Mockingbird, Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group, Inc., April 2010 © 1960 Harper Lee, pages 297, 298.) Scout, the unknowing Second Chair, speaks to Walter Cunningham, the unknowing Fifth Chair, “Hey Mr. Cunningham.” Within seconds Walter says, “Let’s go,” and other Fifth Chair Cunninghams are lastingly affected. One of them becomes a Fifth Chair himself in the jury room, “rarin’ for an acquittal.” If only he’d had a Second Chair! “If we’d had two of that crowd, we’d’ve had a hung jury.” A hung jury in 1930’s segregated, Jim Crow, Alabama with a black man accused of rape. Let’s look at another Second Chair experience. It was August 28, 1963. Hundreds of thousands had gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. facing the Lincoln Memorial. Fifteen speakers were scheduled to speak. The last speaker had been cautioned by his advisers, by the event organizer, and even by the Kennedy Administration, to be careful. It’s a big stage. Don’t cause problems. The speech he was to give was written by others. It was well-crafted and very persuasive. Yet compared to others he had given, it was a bit bland. He had some thoughts he wanted to share and was burdened by whether or not to share them despite the cautions. Toward the end of his prepared remarks, as he struggled whether or not to share these thoughts, a friend standing several rows behind him, Mahalia Jackson, the well-known singer, yelled out, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.” Martin Luther King, Jr. quietly slid the prepared remarks to the side and calmly and carefully said, “I have a dream.” The rest is history. No other speaker, no other remarks are remembered from that day. The speech itself, the written text of which contains no reference to the dream, still echoes through time. King sat burdened in the Fifth Chair with close advisers and important people occupying the First Chair. He wants to tell it; he thinks it’s right; he thinks it will make a difference. They tell him he is wrong; don’t cause problems; stick to the written speech. Mahalia Jackson, sitting in the Second Chair, reaches out with just a few words and, for a moment only, lifts King’s Fifth Chair burden– tell them about the dream, Martin. Mahalia Jackson said to Martin Luther King, Jr., “It’s B.” Another scene: it is 1804 and thirty-two men and a Shoshone woman drag themselves into a Nez Perce village at the western edge of the Bitterroot Mountains. The village feeds the nearly starved group. But so rich is the food that without exception they are sick and further weakened. With them they have hundreds of firearms, ammunition and powder. The Nez Perce are a small tribe in the midst of much stronger tribes. A council of elders discusses what should be done. Strong voices speak to kill them and take their weapons. The weapons could very well change the balance of power among the tribes. Other voices speak to befriend them and nurse them to health. After all, men with such weapons are better friends than enemies and surely will trade for more weapons if befriended. The Council makes its decision: kill them while they are defenseless. A woman lying on her deathbed within hearing of the Council rises with difficulty and joins the circle of elders. Her unexpected presence, her deathly appearance, and the legend of her life command the attention of the elders. Her name is Watkuweis which means, “Returned from a Far Country.” She had been kidnapped at 13 by a neighboring tribe and traded from tribe to tribe, in time being taken 1800 miles to the east. Her legend chronicles her deprivation and abuse. Eventually she is helped to escape by some white settlers in the Great Lakes area and given a few supplies. Miraculously and at great cost, she makes it back to her tribe. She now stands before the tribal Council and simply says, “Men like these were good to me, do them no hurt.” Watkuweis says to the Council, “It’s B” and the Council changes its decision. Among those saved that day were Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The Shoshone woman was Sacagawea. The Lewis and Clark expedition mapped, surveyed and explored 820,000 square miles of uncharted territory. The expedition was the tipping point for the United States’ expansion. But for the word of a dying woman, sitting in the Second Chair, saying to some on the Council sitting in the Fifth Chair, “It’s B,” the great and historically important contributions by Lewis and Clark would have ended abruptly on the western edge of the Bitterroot Mountains. We refer to these experiences as Aspirational Ethics and the Second Chair. As stated, ethics are discretionary behaviors in relationship to morals. Ethics are about the choices we make in relation to how we see right and wrong, good and evil. Codification can limit bad behavior, but as discussed, more and more codification is required to be effective. Codification does not encourage good behavior and tends to result in less overall ethical behavior— fewer choices in relationship to right and wrong, good and evil. The vast majority of people when asked, “Are you good?,” will hesitate to say, “Yes.” Nevertheless, when asked, “Do you want to be good?,” most say “Yes,” without much prodding. A “Yes” answer is even more forthcoming when asked, “Do you want to do good?” It is rare, indeed, for someone to actually aspire to be evil or to do evil. Why? Why do most people readily declare that they want to do good? David, before he became king, before he slew Goliath, said to his brother, Eliab, “is there not a cause,” is there not a reason I am at this place, at this time? Almost everyone feels deep inside themselves, purpose. Sometimes the feeling of purpose can get overshadowed by the moment or even by a lifetime of moments. But just like David of old—we have purpose, there is a cause, a reason for us being in the places we find ourselves, interacting with the people with whom we are interacting. Sometimes the reason is to sit in the Second Chair and say to the Fifth Chair, whose purpose is temporarily overshadowed by First Chair voices, “It’s B.” and when we do, just like a tuning fork resonates with the piano string, our Second Chair voice resonates with truth and purpose of the Fifth Chair and powerful things happen. Aspirational Ethics and the Second Chair encourages awareness and choices in relationship to morals. We all sit in the Fifth Chair at times. Unfortunately, we may sometimes sit in the First Chair and get it totally wrong. But we can aspire to sit in Aspirational Ethics and the Second Chair www.vtbar.org THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL • SPRING 2017 35 “You might like to know that there was one fellow who took considerable wearing down—in the beginning he was rarin’ for an outright acquittal.” “Who?” Jem was astonished. Atticus’s eyes twinkled. “It’s not for me to say, but I’ll tell you this much. He was one of your Old Sarum friends…” “One of the Cunninghams?” Jem yelped. “One of—I didn’t recognize any of ‘em…you’re jokin.” He looked at Atticus from the corners of his eyes. “One of their connections. On a hunch, I didn’t strike him. Just on a hunch. Could’ve, but I didn’t.” “Golly Moses,” Jem said reverently. “One minute they’re tryin’ to kill him and the next they’re tryin’ to turn him loose”… Atticus said… “it took a thunderbolt plus another Cunningham to make one of them change his mind. If we’d had two of that crowd, we’d’ve had a hung jury.” (To Kill a Mockingbird, Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group, Inc., April 2010 © 1960 Harper Lee, pages 297, 298.) Scout, the unknowing Second Chair, speaks to Walter Cunningham, the un- knowing Fifth Chair, “Hey Mr. Cunning- ham.” Within seconds Walter says, “Let’s go,” and other Fifth Chair Cunninghams are lastingly affected. One of them be- comes a Fifth Chair himself in the jury room, “rarin’ for an acquittal.” If only he’d had a Second Chair! “If we’d had two of that crowd, we’d’ve had a hung jury.” A hung jury in 1930’s segregated, Jim Crow, Alabama with a black man accused of rape. Let’s look at another Second Chair expe- rience. It was August 28, 1963. Hundreds of thousands had gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. facing the Lincoln Memorial. Fifteen speakers were sched- uled to speak. The last speaker had been cautioned by his advisers, by the event or- ganizer, and even by the Kennedy Adminis- tration, to be careful. It’s a big stage. Don’t cause problems. The speech he was to give was written by others. It was well-crafted and very persuasive. Yet compared to oth- ers he had given, it was a bit bland. He had www.vtbar.org some thoughts he wanted to share and was burdened by whether or not to share them despite the cautions. 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