Greed is good…and other lies


We were all born with free will.  A gift, a curse… I suppose if we didn’t have it, we’d live in Stepford, possibly in 1984.  But sometimes you just have to ask why this world has to be so painful for so many.  We convince ourselves it’s to learn lessons, so that we become better, stronger, wiser, closer to God.  But, I sometimes wish that Eve put down the apple and walked away.

I asked a friend why I was so upset about the Jesse James / Sandra Bullock headlines.   I was transfixed with sadness (whilst watching ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife‘  –  not the most cheerful day).   She reminded me that we have talked about this amazing couple everyday since her Oscar speech…about how we would wait for as long as it took if only to have a chance at a marriage like that.  She found love at 40, and I think there was a collective female (and maybe a few male) sigh all over the world that a mutual, unbreakable bond was not a fairytale.

But we have free will and original sin.  And we make really bad choices and use “poor judgment,” as Jesse put it…only to beg for forgiveness later.  That man is going to have to live with that the rest of his life.  The breakup of Hollywood marriages is often accredited to the long absences by one partner, in this case, a movie set.  But in normal, everyday suburban marriages, it isn’t the physical distance of a movie location that leads to the 50% divorce rate – there is an emotional distance that often remains untraveled by one or both partners. We are so selfish, so disconnected from each other as human beings… the bond between us is so easily broken.  We are so cruel to each other.

The reason that 71% of those polled are ”sad” about this revelation is because this couple gave us hope.  I know they gave me hope. I know I’m going to hear from my friends that “all marriages aren’t like that, that’s Hollywood…not every guy will do that….”  But as of 25 days ago, I moved out of a place called FantasyLand and one called The Real World.  The rent is high, but it’s at least clean, honest living.

One in 2.7 men cheat.  Read that again, because I’m not re-typing it  – it was painful enough the first time  (And to my male audience, I know women cheat too…and if you want to talk about it, write your own blog).

Dinner tonight was in front of my DVR’ed 60 Minutes from Sunday.  Michael Lewis, finance author of books like Moneyball, The New New Thing and his new one, The Big Short, spoke about the demise of our economic system… but he talked more about the world of temptation that that led to this… lenders and the borrowers choking on their apples,  the selfishness, the ego… He described how we live a “story of mass delusions… you have to be very careful on how to incentivize people, because they will respond to the incentives.”  Oh the irony that he also wrote a little book called “The Blind Side.

Too often, we choose a path that is shockingly selfish, greed outweighs good, the grass is greener, and ask for forgiveness only when caught.  In Conan O’Brien’s final speech on the Tonight Show, he said: “All I ask of you is one thing: please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere.”   A noble statement, and one I’m obviously struggling with these days.  I suppose I’m just in a state where I see people making decisions everyday that hurt other people…and I don’t envy every morning when they wake up knowing they are living a life of regrets and what-ifs.

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