Messiah or Marshmallow?
I can’t believe that I actually felt miniscule tinges of remorse as I watched the story of Saddam Hussein’s execution on television. It certainly isn’t because I was one of his fans. It isn’t because he refused to put on the black hood (I don’t look well in black either). We all know that he was a tyrant to executed thousands of Iraqi citizens for no rhyme or reason. So what is wrong with me? It is not out of charity that I would have preferred to see him rot in a cage. Maybe we could have eventually learned something useful about our enemies.
This leads me to a superficial self-analysis; superficial because I write fiction and lie a lot. I conclude that I really do not have a capacity for hating. Of course, I get angry and disappointed. But the feelings do not last very long. And seeing people suffer causes me angst. Death rips my insides apart. My feelings lean more towards forgiveness than revenge. Does that make me a softie, or simply “too good to be true”?
I know that I can’t forgive Saddam Hussein, Hitler, Stalin, et al. (nor have they asked me to). But I can forgive friends who borrowed money from me and never paid it back, willing to forsake our friendship. I can forgive my Father who once introduced me as his nephew, because my stepmother never told the neighbors that he had a son.
Come to think of it, I have done some dastardly deeds in my business life. Refusing to hire Jack from another division, even though he got me the job in my division, wasn’t very nice. My reasoning was that all of my managers felt he was inadequate and refused to work with him. As CEO, I fired many top managers, who were either not performing, causing friction, had alcohol or drug problems, or were stealing from the company. When I fired them I know I was ruining their lives. I found it very painful and never fired anyone while I was in an angry state; except for the guy who was stealing from us. He made technical services calls and collected expense money by telling our customers that we were not subsidizing his travel (which was untrue and could have damaged out reputation). I had to be held back from throttling him. H had the nerve to ask for severance pay. I told him he had ten minutes to clean out his desk or I would personally disembowel him. This was not a true reflection of my forgiving spirit, but I do forgive myself for it.
Other firings were more painful. Our Sales Manager was an alcoholic and began to abuse our customers. Now-a-days, we would have sent him for help. The Production Manager was on the verge of a breakdown due to the stresses of the job. I had to let him go because he was compounding his mistakes. I was practically in tears when I fired those two. They both understood and were friendly to me when we met at trade shows. Out VP Technical was about to be torn apart by his fellow officers because if his failures and lies. I came close to attacking him with my bare hands, but I fired him with love. The Comptroller was a spy from the parent company, a crony of the Chairman’s (which didn’t bother me, because I had nothing to hide), and a financial dud. When we were acquired by another company, their Finance Director couldn’t work with him, so out he went with a good severance package and my fondest wishes.
I made a $100 million acquisition in Virginia for my British parent. The company was in a small town where everybody knew everybody. The President was the son-in-law of the deceased founder, who was beloved in the community. The found had four daughters, who, being as charitable as I can, I would classify as “barracudas”, whose Casper Milquetoast husbands all worked for the company. I vowed (to myself) to try to maintain the family staff members, so that we didn’t resemble a group of English marauders invading this small community. The son-in-law President was a total disaster. It turns out that he was given the job to protect the family interests. Trying to help him, I offered to cover the job aspects that were his weaknesses. When I asked him what functions he performed for his father-in-law, he answered, “I was a gopher”. Without a second thought, I fired his ass and took over his functions (But I thought I was pretty nice about it).
I confess to being a “waffler” in politics, to the extent of even voting for John Kerry. All things are not “black and white” to me. I had a fierce dislike for Richard Nixon (notice I refrained from using the word “hate”, because it would louse up my story). Yet, I was afraid that he would collapse under the stresses of his last few days in office. In fact, I can’t understand why he didn’t. Apparently, he wasn’t as sensitive as I am. I voted for Adlai Stevenson twice because he was a nice guy and had a great sense of humor. I now realize that I put too much emphasis on the intellectually and likeability of political candidates. Successful leaders do not have to display the abundance of “niceness” that I have shown in my business and personal life. Classic examples are Bobby Knight, Idi Amin, Yasser Arafat, and all of the Pharaohs. I admit that there have been obstacles in my career where I had to step over people to achieve my goals. But I always did it with love in my heart. I came close but never reached the point of an epiphany that forced me to say, “No more Mister Nice Guy”.
It was been said that when the Messiah comes (either for the first or second time, depending upon which Bible you read), he will not come wearing a uniform with gold epaulets in a carriage drawn by six white horses followed by bright-colored spotlights. He will come as an ordinary man, wearing Levi Strauss jeans and a polo shirt from Bealls; or some such garb of modest proportions. Being a proponent of the “Love everybody and turn the other cheek” school, I find it difficult to compare myself with any mere mortal. Of course, there is Billy Graham. But he shared anti-Semitic remarks with my other idol, Richard Nixon. Bill Gates seems to have made it fairly big without antagonizing the world. But we really don’t know the dark side of his hard disk…Pope John XXIV seemed like a good guy with his desire for ecumenism. But I don’t know what he might have been saying in Italian. For all I know he might have been telling Polish jokes.
I might as well just come out and say it. My philosophy comes closest to that of the teachings of Jesus Christ. It is possible that I am the returned Messiah, dressed as casually as I am? And if I was, wouldn’t someone (probably God) have told me by now? Or am I just soft like a marshmallow and cuddly like a puppy? Ask all the people I have fired. And, while I am at it, I warn you to be beware of false Messiahs.