Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day 330 The Power of Noblesse Oblige

Dear friends,

If you've never seen the Anthony Andrews/Jane Seymour TV movie version of "The Scarlet Pimpernel", you're missing a big treat. I highly recommend it for one of these upcoming late fall or winter evenings, particularly on a Friday when you're plumb tuckered out and want the feet up and the cup of hot chocolate.

If you don't know the basic premise of this legend, here goes: It's the time of the French Revolution (the first one), and the sentiment among the poor and middle class folks, (the bourgeois) is, well, it's "off with their heads" in regards the nobility, the rich, and in particular, the monarchy. A hero rises up from the ranks of the English elite who disguises himself in countless ways and with wit and cunning rescues some of the innocent French nobles from madame guillotine. In the meantime, he makes enemies with the evil Chauvlin, the cold, calculating up and comer in the new Republic. And of course, he falls in love with the beautiful Marguerite, but must keep from her his true identity. He plays the part of a fool, a fop, a nitwit, (hysterical!), and saves the day over and over again. I don't want to give the whole movie away, but suffice it to say you'll be satisfied with the swashbuckling, tongue-in-cheek, good natured adventure of it all.

One of the themes struck repeatedly in The Scarlet Pimpernel is that of noblesse oblige, or noble obligation to one's fellow man that is the duty of one who has been given much. I can't help but get happy when Sir Percy (Scarlet Pimpernel in street clothes), risks his own neck to get his men out of one scrape or another, and does it with cheerfulness and style. Not only that, he risks his own safety and comfort for the sake of people he doesn't even know. What a guy! I am such a sucker for an old fashioned, character driven story with a great setting, sticky conflict and an ample resolution.

You already know where I'm going with this. Isn't this fiction the way it ought to be in real life? In particular, shouldn't the children of God watch each other's backs instead of stepping on each other's toes...or worse? As for my family, well, we've seen the transforming power of noblesse oblige in action. And the mystifying thing is, we've even seen strangers stick their necks out on our behalf. This is the kind of stuff that turns darkness into light. Being a natural born chicken, I ask the Great One to give me the courage to do the hard little things that come my way in the day to day, hoping I won't face the big ones, but if I do that I'll act like He would. I can fantasize about sword fighting with the devil, but the real deal is can I say no to that chilling temptation that makes my blood run cold when I'm not standing in my shadow. Most of all, can I love my fellow pilgrims without judgement, accepting them where they are, forgiving them when they're miserable, and not being envious of them when they surpass me in talent, treasure or personality. And can I risk my comfort, my reputation, my sense of being "right" in order to get them out of some bog of trouble. I'm not at all there yet, but by God's grace it's where I want to be. And I've had some pretty fine examples in the shape of friends like you.

Love that noblesse oblige on the highway to the sky. Sink me, if it doesn't make the trip that much sweeter...

Your friend on the pilgrim road,



MTB Man said...

Ouch! Right on the mark with my spiritual exercises this week. :-|

Sir Percy (sink me!) said...

Sink Me, you've done it again.
Not only have your tailors betrayed you, but if everyone is so equal in your society, then no one wants to do the drivin ana-more!

johandav said...

Gary - thanks again for your comments. I'm on the same page as you...

Chris - Sink me, but I remember watching THe Scarlet Pimpernel on 6th Ave in Brooklyn. The sorry cut of that sleeve...no,no,no. Love you friend!

Anonymous said...

What a great entry!!!(sp.-judgment)-The Loving Wordsmith