I’ve always enjoyed films and, like many, sort of develop a rolling top ten or five depending on your level of interest in the medium. Here’s a selection of mine: “The Last Samurai”, “Schindler’s List” and “The Shawshank Redemption.” They all concern men of honour or men who become honourable and their struggles with a compromising world. Some end up on a beach in Mexico mucking about with boats, which doesn’t sound a bad fate to me and others die, but normally with a peaceful expression, integrity intact, and some sense of value and understanding firmly in their mind.
I am not saying I am or am not a man of honour but I am saying I would like to be and therefore films with these themes are soothing to me. My partner, who can be very lucid, especially when irritated, was talking about a work issue and in response to a comment of mine she replied, “They are running businesses they don’t own”. I nodded sagely. It was a good point. The more I thought about it the gooder it got: let me explain. Oh you’ve stopped reading. Never mind I’ll just keep ranting, frothing and venting into hyper-space: my new best friend.
If you run your own small to medium-sized business whatever happens in the business is directly related to the bottom line. An idea or strategy may be good or bad but the motivation for it is unambiguous. In the corporate world things are rather different, The “boss” or ultimate owner may be millions of private shareholders, some pension funds, hedge funds and the like. In fact most people in the organisation have no idea who they ultimately work for.
Even those at the top may have their gaze focused on some objective such as selling the business and cashing in their share options. In these circumstances the operational efficiency and integrity of the organisation is not necessarily their first concern. This can leave those in middle management with a lack of common focus which encourages game playing, posturing and uncertainty.
It is a long way away from the world of the Samurai who knows his duty and his responsibilities without any doubt or ambiguity. Who supports his friends with a loyalty and constancy beyond question. It is some distance from the overriding humanity of Schindler who gave all he had to protect those in his employ. No one looks another in the eye and turns after a moment of shared respect to be consumed by their duty and sense of honour. Of course I’ve never been in such a situation or faced such a clear choice between the good and bad. Lets face it, if Tom Cruise, or Nathan Algren as he is more commonly known,dressed in the uniform of the man he had stabbed in a previous battle, entered the office and said I have come to mend the photocopier or die in the attempt, and I will not be stopped I would begin to worry.
Things being what they are, I have to wobble on through this poorly focused, obscurely valued world of compromise, and make the best of it that I can with the limited gifts and moral qualities destiny has granted me.