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What Price 'Pride and Glory'?

by Shen Shi'an, The Buddhist Channel, Dec 18, 2008

Dharma-Inspired Movie Review: www.prideandglorymovie.com

Singapore -- 'Pride and Glory' is a dark yet illuminating exploration of grey issues within the blue, about the possible corruption of cops. Truth or fiction, it's always good to forewarn of what might go wrong if left unchecked.

Yes, all good movies raise good questions, with thoughtful morals to tell. This is one such film, that has its protagonists straddle the fine line that demarcates good from evil, challenging the audience to decide which side they should be on.

What happens when the very ones sworn to protect and to serve (like lawful 'Bodhisattvas') abuse their power? When cops become robbers more ruthless than the usual ones, who do you call? How do you know the one you are calling is not one of them? Is it necessary for cops to deal with the 'devil'? Can this control crime? Or does it exploit crime? Is this not already criminal? Who is the 'authority' that decides? The cops, the robbers, or both?

Is anything that makes cops look bad not good? Doesn't uncovering the hidden ugliness urge them to make things better? An ex-cop commits suicide out of guilt, for having let his conscience gone to rot. But is he not still for worldly pride and glory? Was he not badly twirled and twisted around by the eight worldly winds of gain and loss, honour and dishonour, praise and blame, pain and pleasure? Did he really cross a point of no return?

If multi-generations of pride and glory from being in the police force runs in the family, is it foolish not to protect it at all costs? But would it be worth it… when covered up scandals are eventually discovered? How much pride and glory can you cling on to before it becomes an empty shell? Should you cling to it at all? Should protection of the name of the family be at the stake of losing its moral centre? Isn't goodness worthier than pride and glory?

How far can one's principles of justice be stretched without fear or favour before they snap? Can family always be trusted? Should a clean cop betray his family when it becomes corrupted? Is loyalty to family not the upholding of goodness within? How good can it be to cover up what is not good? Is true protection and restoration of genuine pride and glory not via declaring the truth for expressing repentance?

Should investigations of the sacrificed innocent end to protect the living and guilty? Does a good leader let bad guys in his charge go, lest they mar his own 'good' record? Who is really answerable? Is it okay to let some corruption take place among the cops? Is it alright to 'give and take' a little? Would this not legalise corruption gradually? How much leeway is okay? Some or none? How much is too much? The Buddha warns and encourages so in the Dhammapada -

Think lightly not of evil,
'It will not come to me',
for by the falling of water drops
a water jar is filled.
The fool with evil fills himself,
he soaks up little by little.

Think lightly not of goodness,
'It will not come to me',
for by the falling of water drops
a water jar is filled.
The sage with goodness fills himself,
he soaks up little by little.

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