A few weeks ago, Time Magazine did a cover story profile on outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Outlining his somewhat amazing litany of accomplishments as well as his equally audacious future plans, the article ended with a quote from His Honor that I just can't seem to get out of my head:
The worst combination of things is to NOT try to do the right thing...and to lose.
Think about it for a second...and then think of what's going on across the country.
We have a Federal Government embroiled in a Senatorial expense scandal that started somewhat innocuously, but now seems to get dirtier and more convoluted each week, leaving most with the feeling that there's a lot more bad yet to come.
Next, Canada's largest city is embroiled in a truly distressing fiasco thanks to its obviously ill and way-out-of-his-league mayor. The humiliation and disgrace surrounding Toronto's Rob Ford -- let's just generously describe him as "The anti-Bloomberg" -- gets more unfathomable with every hour. Imagine this a film script; even the most desperate Hollywood producer would reject it for being too surreal.
And then there's Quebec, where the minority government is trying to ram an onerous, us vs. them, confederate-styled "Charter of Rights and Values" through the national assembly, one that mixes the worst of Orwell and Machiavelli in dividing the populace and limiting religious freedoms in the name of one-ness. (Perhaps the best perspective on it comes from comic Rick Blue, of Bowser and Blue fame, who said: "Let's look on the bright side -- the Parti Quebecois have done something here in Montreal that no one else in the world has ever been able to do. They have united the Arabs and the Jews!")
A trifecta of "worst combinations."
Worst combinations that are only going to get worse before they get better. And even once they do get better, there will be a lot of collateral damage left behind to clean up.
One could get depressed.
But then again, one could look at the calendar and realize that it's Remembrance Day, the annual mark of respect to people who indeed DID do the right thing. And although I believe there is never really no "win" in war, one shudders to think what we'd be facing today had we had to deal with a "loss."
In reflecting on the dichotomy of such a national day of pride and deference to fortitude when so much of what stands for personal character seems to be degenerating into rot, we can be warmed to know that one person can still make a difference, and that for every bit of evil, there seems to be a greater amount of good.
Small, small personal example is a conversation I had with friends Shea Emry and Devon Brooks, who came over for dinner on Friday. He is a defensive star for the Montreal Alouettes and she is an entrepreneur/motivational speaker...but both of them are the antithesis of what stands for "official leadership."
Last week, Shea and Dev hosted a unique yoga event to raise funds for Movember. The week before, Shea was the official spokesperson for a mental health fundraiser that he attended only hours before playing in a game at Molson Stadium. And the future plans the two have are astonishing; I'm sworn to secrecy now, but trust me, you'll be hearing from and about them.
So this week's lesson is an inspiring one.
Indeed, the worst combination is NOT trying to do the right thing...and to lose.
But at the other extreme, there are so, so many who did the right thing, and/or are still trying to do the right thing.
And just by doing that, no matter how small...they have already won.