What's It All About?
June 2010 President's Column
Patrick E. Kelly
"What's it all about, Alfie?" When I am grappling with the meaning of life and other weighty issues, I have a habit of asking this question to myself, out loud. I usually get strange looks from others when I do. I am not really sure how I got in the habit of asking this particular question, other than it sounds profound and seems to capture the unfathomability of life's deeper questions. As I reflect on my past year as MCB President, I find myself asking this same question, or at least a variation of it: "Why in the heck did I do this and was it worth it?"
I have never seen the movie Alfie and didn't even know the rest of the words to the title song until I sat down to write this column. Concerned that I might have been misusing the line for many years, I did what any serious scholar would do - I googled. As I perused the lyrics for the first time, I discovered that the song is basically a love song about following your heart. Upon further reflection, I was relieved to conclude that I could make the case, albeit ex post facto, that I had it right all along, and that my reflexive and unthinking response to life's difficult questions, and the lyrics associated with it, actually help to answer these questions, including my own self-indulgent ones.
What's it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What's it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give?
Or are we meant to be kind?
And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
Then I guess it's wise to be cruel.
And if life belongs to the strong, Alfie,
What will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there's a heaven above, Alfie,
I know there's something much more,
Something even non-believers can believe in.
I believe in love, Alfie.
Without true love we just exist, Alfie.
So maybe the best answer I can give to my question is that I did it for love. Not romantic love, of course. Love of the profession and professionalism. Love of the rule of law. Love of equal access to justice. Love of duty, honor and country. Love of a higher calling. Love of service to others. Love of friendship and camaraderie. Love of a challenge. Things we all love. OK, so maybe there were other less noble motives at play too, such as a desire for recognition and influence. But in the end, I did it for love and because of that its all been worth it.
As I pass the torch to my capable successor, Todd Brown, I am grateful that our Bar remains strong, vibrant and relevant. I am thankful to each of you who selflessly give of your time and talent to educate and train our lawyers, to ensure professional and ethical behavior of our members, to improve the administration of, and access to, justice and, in the end, to ensure that the rule of law, and the ability of all to pursue life, liberty and happiness, is protected. And I am in awe of how many do so much without fanfare or the need for recognition.
Our Bar has accomplished much this year, but our work is never done. We are fortunate to have an outstanding Executive Director in Nancy Roberson. She works tirelessly to ensure that MCB, and each of us as members, fulfills our collective duty to the profession and to the community. To her credit, Nancy has assembled a highly competent, hard working and dedicated staff, without whom none of us would look good. I urge your continued support of Nancy and her staff, of our Board, of our new officers, our Executive Committee, and our Committee, Section and Division Chairs. If you haven't yet fully connected with our Bar, consider getting more involved. You might be surprised at all our Bar does for you, the profession and our community. Just do it. Do it for love.