At the end the 1992 comedy My Cousin Vinny, the characters played by Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei are discussing how the not-quite-legit lawyer Vincent Gambino managed to win the case.

Her: So what’s your problem?

Him: My problem is I wanted to win my first case without any help from anybody.

Her: Well, I guess that plan’s moot.

Him: Yeah.

Her (heavy sarcasm): This could be a sign of things to come.
You win all your cases, but with somebody else’s help, right?
You win case after case, and then afterwards,…
…you have to go up to somebody and you have to say ”Thank you.”

If you have seen the film you know that the expert testimony provided by his mouthy girlfriend, Mona Lisa Vito, was clearly essential to the case. In the ensuing dialog, Gambino is forced to face his own dependence. To Vinny’s chagrin, he must come to grips with the idea that he is not an island of competence and strength. I suspect that the movie’s audience has generally nodded their  approval of this lesson in humility. Do we, however, remain oblivious to the personal application in our own lives?

Dependence. It is a fact of existence. Everything we see, know, and interact with has its cause in something before it. It is contingent on something more primal than itself. It doesn’t take a degree in philosophy to see that this relationship of things depending upon other things cannot go back forever.


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