Okay, I'se becomin' a broken record...but iffin' ya ain't see No Country for Old Men, git to it!
I seen it again--yep, 3rd time, and it is worth it. An' Aunty read the book first (of course).
The movie is tellin' us'uns somethin' real big--bigger than politics or war or the economy. It is sayin' who we as a people are--or aren't.
So this heah is mah question--in both the book and movie the sheriff ( who is tryin' to save a good ole' boy out hunntin' who thought it might be not-so-bad-to steal 2 million in drug money he found after a drug deal gone sour....natcherly he unleashed all hell on hisself and others) makes this BIG -B I G --point:
Everthang went to hell when folks stopped sayin' sir and
mam. Does ya'll see that? See the connection?
I knows some think thas' a fer stretch--that lawlessness and violence doan have much to do with the quaint (Southern!) custom of sayin' "Sir" or "M'am" ...an' I been thinkin' so hard on this matter. Studyin' it....which brings me to a confession to all ya'll: I'se a Southern Agrarian. I reads
Edmund Burke, and his intellectual chillen, Flannery O'Connor, M.E. Bradford(author of Founding Fathers) , Russell Kirk, Allen Tate and Wendell Berry and other traditional thinkers. Flannery also said it was manners that would make livin' peaceably possible. No manner, no peace.
So--to all this (manners, tradition and a stable civilization) No Country is tellin' us Americans that we's only jes' beginin' to see horror.
We lost our good manners which is the symbol of recognizin' a fellow human bein' as worthy of basic kindness. Manners is a symbol fer voluntary fidelity to somethin bigger than yore own desires. When a people put themselves and their desires over ever'thang else, then it ain't no society no more--only a collection of loners huddled in the same city limits, county lines or national border. An that ain't No Country For Old Men (to be in if he values his soul--as noted in the movie).
In the story, Sheriff Bell asks, "Who are these people?" he means folks who have no idea of, nor intention to have, basic human decency.
So, Aunty is wonderin'--as we move into election 2008, is we still a society? Is we folks we agree to the basics of a republic, jes' disagree about how to achieve them basics we share? or is we no longer truly sharin' basics as one society?
I read this recently:
Civility is the relationship among citizens in a republic. It corresponds to the condition we call "freedom", which is not just an absence of restraint or coercion, but the security of living under commonly recognized rules of conduct. Not all these rules are enforced by the state; legal institutions of civility depend on the ethical substratum and collapse when it is absent. And in fact the colloquial sense of civility as good manners is relevant to its political meaning: citizens typically deal with each other by consent, and they have to say "please" and "thank you" to each other.
(Author Cormac McCarthy is a Southerner [Tennessee])