Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Love and the Lawyer

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A contradictory title no doubt. The lawyer’s job is driven by strife, especially in our local context; where bitterness escalates to an irreversible level before you call in a lawyer. Even the modern suggestion of pre-emptive use of Law is worse.  It merely displays a lack of trust. And what is love without trust?

So, we should not ruin the beautiful word by placing it side to side with, well…the Law.
Love is for people who live freely. The lawyer’s starched collars permit no such easement. Love is for honest folks who are not ashamed of making mistakes. It is a game of emotions. The Law is infallible and impassive. Love attracts gifts. The Law attracts penalties. Love is a gesture that goes beyond mere words. In the words of Ingrid Bergman: A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.
But ‘beyond mere words’ best describes a lawyer’s death.

The anti-lawyer sentiment when Love is in the air is not helped by the practice of Divorce Lawyers. You can sense their sardonic pleasure when they establish the unsavoury fact that sometimes, Love is in the err…!
The Lawyer scoffs at the phrase ‘unconditional love’ as tautology. He believes that Love should either exist in an absolute state; or humbly admit its openness to conditions. He does not believe in falling in love or any such spontaneous magic. He recommends a firm foot-hold in matters of the heart, governed by mutually agreed pre-conditions. 

The lawyer’s concept of Love is a bit like this:
 “The parties hereby agree that for the subsistence of this relationship (which phrase shall wherever the context admits, include such casual liaisons as flings, affairs, and friendship with benefits as well as the more formal processes of dating, courtship and marriage).
The parties also agree that no party shall perform acts or omissions which are likely to negatively impact on the other party’s state of health, mind, emotions, or finances.

“Omission” as used here is any unjustified forgetfulness on the part of the male constituent in this relationship of any occasion, event or circumstance which in the opinion of the female constituent is important or highly cherished. These events include but are not limited to: anniversaries (which shall in itself include, birthdays, first dates, first kiss, first hug, first argument, first fight, first picnic, parents’ birthdates [“parents’ herein used shall be mandatory for those of the female constituent, and discretionary for those of the male], sister’s boyfriend’s thanksgiving, etc); shoe size (UK and American); best chocolate flavours; best fragrance, best shopping mall, best jewelry, best TV channel; best visitors; best topics of discussion, etc.

The Agreement will go further to provide that:
“Unreasonable demands’ shall include any such urges, desires, or wants expressed orally or in writing by the female constituent to the male constituent requiring the performance of such activities as are either impossible or where possible would inflict huge personal discomforts and pain, or have such negative effect on the financial solvency of the male constituent as to endanger his life. These shall include but not limited to: questing for a week-long trip to Dubai and/or other exotic Islands, A pronounced preference for any variety of human hair beyond the natural braids and weave; An insistent notice of the emergence of the Blackberry Porsche; cultivating an exclusive taste for Chinese and other Oriental cuisines; A habitual preference for the VIP sections of bars, lounges, clubs and during live-shows; an expressed dislike for the genteel gifts or flowers, poetry and chocolates during Valentine, etc.’

The bad thing about this scenario is that there would be no Termination Clause. Love is permanent. But every contract permits an exit route. Oh, Love is not a contract…it is a covenant; a restrictive covenant. So, these conditions may or may not be met, and the parties live in stoic tolerance of the good, the bad and the downright unacceptable. Where then lies the “Happily Ever After” elixir?

Only fools fall in love then; never the learned and knowledgeable…at least, not in that mushy sense.
The lawyer views love from a social perspective; the balance of society, the love of the Law.
So, when the date rape occurs on Valentine’s, the loveless Lawyer is entreated from his lonely chambers. He is Mr. Damage Control who is never invited when the going is good.

The big irony then is that the Lawyer shows the best type of love. That, which brooks no excuses: you pay for your sins. In popular legal parlance; the saying “thou shall love your neighbor” is interpreted as ‘thou shall not injure your neighbor…”

So, when next you see a Lawyer wandering distractedly across the red splashed streets on St Valentine’s, do not point and deride him. He is expressing the same emotion, albeit a bit unimaginatively. Of course, we agree that he is also a money grabber, but then that ‘robber’ might just be your best protection.  Grab his card and buy him a drink. Just be sure to rise when he starts a glazed-eye discourse on the ‘subtle sexism discernible from Shakespeare’s sonnets’


PS: In the light of our collective national scourge of religious/tribal violence and militant destruction, the Nation desperately needs LOVE. Show some today…even to a lawyer!
Happy Val’s People!

also published on THISDAY Newspapers, Tuesday, February 14, 2012.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed/understood this. First time! You know say at times your brain too big for me. Nice one with the ThisDay thing too. A friend of mine Funmi Akinosi used to do likewise too back in the day.