“It’s not a question of enough, pal. It’s a zero sum game, somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn’t lost or made; it’s simply transferred from one perception to another.”
“The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms – greed for life, for money, knowledge – has marked the upward surge of mankind, and greed – you mark my words – will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you.”
– Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) in Wall Street, 1987
There are an infinite number of games being played. I don’t have to tell you that. Some play to win at all cost. Some play to get as rich as humanly possible, regardless of the consequences. Some play just to get ahead of the competition. Some play just for the sake of playing. Some don’t know how to play and get chewed up and spit out by the powers that be. Some refuse to play anymore. Some are afraid to play. And others, well, they are doing all they can to survive the day.
Politics? Business? No, life.
It’s not about the money. It’s about relationships. It’s about one-on-one’s. It’s how one person relates to someone else and what each person brings to the table. If Mr. Blue has a chip on his shoulder and walks into the conversation expecting to win no matter what, it certainly affects what Mr. Blue hears when he sits down with Mr. Yellow. If Mr. Blue really wants to hear what Mr. Yellow has to say, and plans to respond fairly regardless of what is said, it changes the whole dynamic of the relationship.
Throw in issues about trust, confidence, sincerity, honesty and integrity, and you have a wide array of variables that all affect a simple interaction between two people.
Consider all of the people you deal with in a given week, and all of the people that those people deal with, and on and on, until you have an incalculable number of personal interactions occurring each moment on the globe. And in each instance, something is taking place. Some people are trying to get something from someone else. Others are trying to fend off manipulation. And still others are interacting without any intention of gain. Maybe they don’t even care.
Perhaps it’s a group of dirty thugs carrying machine guns. They surprise a tourist and take a hostage in the darkened alley. They cover his head, push him in the backseat of the car and slam the doors. Dust mixes with screams in several languages, blending with a noisy market on a late afternoon.
Perhaps it’s a media frenzy in the nation’s capitol, the head of a major corporation covers his head in his suit jacket as photographers try to freeze a moment in time, his most regrettable moment, just minutes after a judge looks him in the eye and pronounces his guilt, and the full weight of his action falls squarely upon his shoulders.
Perhaps it’s the president, sitting at his desk, a camera staring him in the eye, minutes before it goes live to a world audience. He grimaces, a frog in his throat, an itch on his nose, a man taking his country to war. Sweat begins to glisten and powder is quickly applied. Tense whispers give way to silence. "My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger…."
Clearly, as president of the world’s greatest superpower, every action, every word uttered, has more meaning and significance than those of civilian bystanders. His tone and his demeanor sometimes say more than his words. As the top player among all players, his decisions – and intentions – also speak louder than words. As the "leader of the free world," the president is responsible for playing by the rules, for ensuring the safety of his nation and maintaining prosperity for generations to come.
Those of us under his command may or may not know much about foreign policy or world oil supplies or national debt or gross national product or even anything about the conflict in Iraq. Sometimes all we know is all we see on TV or hear on the radio or read in the paper. We see his swagger on the flight deck and wonder if he served in the military. We hear him tell us that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. And then opinion circulates in the wind. We hear there are no weapons of mass destruction, and we wonder why we’d attack a nation that had such capability in the first place. We catch word of corrupt lobbyists on Capitol Hill, of peace groups wiretapped and spied upon by the government, of a total disregard for "checks and balances" in our government. We hear that environmental regulation under our president’s watch has been left in the hands of the corporations that do the polluting. We see company after company moving overseas and watch our friends move out of the neighborhood after losing their jobs.
Isn’t it easy to complain? To bash the guy in charge? It’s Monday morning quarterbacking at its finest. Everyone has an opinion. But the fact is, none of those opinions matter. What matters is the condition the president leaves this nation when he steps out of the White House for the final time. The Great Law of Peace from the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy mandated that the chief consider the impact of his decisions on the seventh generation yet to come.
Sadly, our president seems to play by different rules. He seems to make decisions for the short-term gain of a privileged few. It may just be me, but our leader reminds me more of Gordon Gekko than a man of peace.