It is the final phrase of the Pledge of Allegience we all learned in elementary school.
It is the title of a movie directed by Norman Jewison and starring Al Pacino made in 1979.
It is the phrase I use to describe those moments in life when you break loose and tell it like it is – damn the consequences.
At the dramatic conclusion of the movie And Justice For All Al Pacino’s character breaks loose in the courtroom and tells the truth, which results in his forcible removal. In the final scene he is sitting outside on the courthouse steps. His law partner walks past him on his way into the courthouse and salutes Pacino by removing his toupee the same way a gentleman would tip a hat.
Pacino is sitting on the steps of a courthouse and I project that his character is wondering, What next?
He has had it up to here with a system that is broken. His frustration of working within a broken system and failing to achieve justice for anybody has made him crazy.
But that’s the trouble with an “And Justice For All” moment. Once you’ve had your say, once you’ve spewed all your indignation and frustration and emotion…
How do you live in a broken system? How do you function?
Do you go mad and treat your toupee as a top hat?
Do you play at the edge of death by putting yourself in peril and live off the adrenaline rush?
Do you numb yourself and just keep moving?
Do you live for yourself?
Do you beat against the system until you are bloody and bruised and finally die?
It is a powerful movie. I would recommend it, with this caveat, you shouldn’t enjoy it. This is not a movie to enjoy. This is a movie to watch and ponder and think about.
How do I live in a broken world?