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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Learn that People are More Important than Career

Does anybody remember Oliver Stone's Wall Street?

In it, young stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) comes under the thrall of ruthless veteran Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). (We get a hint of Gekko's nature when we realize that his name is a homonym for a kind of lizard.)

Anyway, under Gekko's tutelage Bud happily breaks the law to get ahead--until he has to choose between his career and his father. In the aftermath, his career goes down in flames, but he remains faithful to dear old dad (played by Martin Sheen, Charlie's dear old dad).

Most analysis of the film concentrates on the Wall Street-y angle, but I think the simple moral lesson--that the people in our lives are more important than our careers--has been lost in the hoopla.

When a dad misses a kid's ballgame for a meeting, or a daughter fails to visit Mom in a rest home because of a business trip, and the reason given is "I'm doing this for my family," there seems to be a rather odd shifting of priorities taking place.

And of course, this concept extends beyond family, to other people we know, and even more we don't know. The fortunes built on the back of sweatshop workers would be one example.

To round out this little movie-based moral, let me recommend one more film: Elizabethtown. Chances are you haven't seen it, but everyone should. It shows how the end of a career can be the beginning of a real life. (And Susan Sarandon tap dances!)

See it, and remember to put people first.

You'll be happier.

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