When money leads the choices we make, values go right out the window with disastrous results.
This weekend, thousands of movie-goers will line up for a chance to see the much anticipated film, Unbroken. I was halfway through the novel, by Laura Hillenbrand, before I knew Angelina Jolie was directing the film.
I don't know about you, but something really struck me as I read about Louis Zamparini's abuse in that Japanese POW camp, It made me think about the commitment Americans make toward proudly resenting nations who've harmed or offended us, yet we don't feel that way about Japan, despite the horrific atrocities of World War II.
I mean, of the 27,000 American prisoners in Japan's POW camps, 40% died; yet only 1% died in German camps. I'd think "proud" America would hold a grudge over that.
Now, don't get me wrong; I'm not AT ALL advocating prejudice, but the irony of this was on my mind, because, let's face it, our recent media headlines are ripe with examples that prejudice is alive and (sadly) well these days, whether you're black, white, Christian, Jewish, Muslim or any other version of human.
But in regard to our relationship with Japan, I found it interesting that America's "we never forget" mindset somehow seemed to skip a beat.
My husband's thought on this was, "Maybe we let it go because we dropped the bomb." Maybe. After all, shouldn't we have remorse for killing 220,000 people? Was this a good example of our nation's values leading the way to forgiveness?
That settled me down for a while, and with true Holiday spirit I once again believed in the right priorities of mankind.
Then, I read Unbroken's epilogue which states: "America's leaders began to see a future alliance with Japan as critical to national security," and, wham! Just like that, my money coach radar kicked into overdrive.
Interesting that our conviction to punish Japan's war-crimes (despite our own) dropped suddenly—accountability and responsibility were no longer important, and alliance with Japan was the new priority. I wondered if we saw the alliance as future opportunities for profits.
Imagine that ... a nation leading with money while its "values" trailed behind?
Now, it doesn't really matter whether if my radar is right or wrong on this, because, again, I'm certainly not advocating for punishment. Unbroken's director, Angelina Jolie, clearly states that her movie is the story of forgiveness and that can't be argued with.
But what I am advocating for is a nation (and a population of individuals) that lead with values, not money.
What does "national security" really mean if we pretend leading with money is the right thing to do; and if we ignore or deny that our true intention is exactly that.
Well, let me ask you: How many times have you put your life on hold waiting for the money to come in? How many times have you made a decision based on money consequences, rather than what feels right for you? Just look at the choices we make to buy the right brand, or the right thing, that'll make us look beautiful, young and successful. Is that really what's most important to us?
Are we relying on money to buy us things that don't represent real value?
It's the same with corporate decisions that pulled us into the modern day Great Recession. The practices and policies, followed by financial institutions, may have been legally right. But, were they ethically sound?
Just because it's legal to do something doesn't make it right.
Corporate America, led by the almighty dollar, made decisions that even a second grader would know are wrong.
So, my point is that any time we make decisions based on money, we run the risk of putting our values second in line. We lead with money and manipulate our values to fit in, and we end up somewhere we didn't want to go.
It's time to do the opposite. Leading with values first and money second will always take you in the right direction and empower you to lead a life you are proud of.
And, if there's an inkling of truth in my suspicions about our Japanese war amnesty efforts, had we led with values, we could have honored American warriors at the same time we practiced true forgiveness.