Ruggles and the Equality of Man

“Oh, no. Always bring the pot to the kettle – never bring the kettle to the pot.”

Ruggles and the Equality of Man

Ruggles of Red Gap is light comedy starring the great Charles Laughton. Screened in 1935, it was nominated for a best picture Oscar. We don’t see it much on cable.

The premise is that some rich cowboys from America visit England and get into a poker game with a Lord. The lord isn’t rich at all but does have the title. Down on his chips, he bets his butler and loses. So, our very proper butler, Ruggles, must now go to America to serve his new master.

In a strong moment in this light comedy, Ruggles asks some cowboys if they knew The Gettysburg Address. Well, they reckoned they knew of it but couldn’t remember a word.

The Gettysburg Address might be one of the most famous speeches ever. Written by Abraham Lincoln on a train. Addressing the soldiers at a cemetery of our Civil War, those who fought brother against brother for an ideal, country over family in a bitter bloody war, he did the only thing that he could do: he reminded them of why they are there.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

The founders believed that all men are created equal. This is in contrast to England, the home of our dear Ruggles. However, powerful men wanted to define what a man is by the color of his skin. This war was about including men with black skin and broadening the idea of “man”.

Then, in 1919, we redefined “man” to include women; by law they were now allowed to vote. Once again, powerful men dispute the definition. It gives up power when it is agreed that those with black skin and of the female gender are equals by law and on paper.

Frankly, powerful men don’t want it to happen. They will do anything including calling on God. Oddly, the Equal Rights Amendment is still being kicked around today in 2019; an idea introduced to Congress back in 1920.

A woman’s place is in the house and in the senate.

There is no stopping the women’s movement towards equality. The battle to get women into the military as an equal was pretty crazy. Men would say that women can’t be in combat mostly by listing the weaknesses of men! Today, we barely remember the original Fly Girls; the women who flew the big bomber planes in the 1940s. They ferried the planes from plant to base, across our United States. You betcha they took some pride in serving their country.

Laws are being passed today by powerful men on abortion. It is what I’d call a “trap law”. It is now illegal in many states to have an abortion after five weeks from conception, a “heartbeat” law. If I were a woman, I’d move to another state; let Texas be a wasteland for all I care. It is a trap law and free will is lost to this law. Today, here in America. Those powerful men carry God on their sleeve but ignore the Bible which defines life, a living soul, as “breath life”.

What Ruggles did in that movie was to recite from memory the Gettysburg Address to those cowboys. He saw that there was equality in America, something that he would never have in England. And, so, he decided to stay in America. We fought the Civil War for an ideal of America and equality. Have mercy, dear Lord, we are still fighting today.

(Ruggles and Prunella are looking at the rough and cluttered store space that Ruggles will use for his restaurant)
Prunella Judson: It’s a mess isn’t it?
Ruggles: It’s wonderful.
Prunella Judson: Well, I don’t see anything wonderful about it.
Ruggles: You don’t?
Prunella Judson: No.
Ruggles: You don’t? My father was a gentleman’s gentleman… and his father before him. And from that heritage of service miraculously there comes a man. A person of importance, however small. A man whose decisions and whose future are in his own hands.
Prunella Judson: It’s wonderful, isn’t it?

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