Sean Connery, the actor who played the original Bond passed away this week. Iconic both in fiction and real life, to me he represents a defender of all we embrace in liberal democracy as something to be protected in an age when authoritarian governments appear to be on the rise everywhere.
When I say “liberal democracy” I mean in the classical sense; that system of government which is responsive to the people who are governed, and not necessarily to reference the political agenda of some authoritarian. For reference consider the great thinkers on this issue like John Stuart Mill, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.
The origins of limits on the monarch was birthed in England in the form of the Magna Carta, and all the follow on development of the notion of the Rights of Man gained traction there. Today we call these Human Rights.
And so, defender of the Crown, enters James Bond, a fictional creation of Ian Fleming who as it turns out, was a spy himself for Britian in World War II, fighting the authoritarian state which was Nazi Germany.
But we have to remember all these heroes are merely men, actors on a stage as their countrymen William Shakespeare put it. I provide as a tribute to those who have been just men, yet rise to the defense of our liberties, the soliloquy from As You Like It tracing the seasons of a mans life, an ordinary man born poor in Scotland who became an iconic defender of the Realm, and all we as free people hold dear.
As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school.
And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.
Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth.
And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part.
The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound.
Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.