Lately I have been thinking about the Coen Brothers dark comedy “Fargo”. It depicts a botched kidnap plot that goes horribly wrong leaving a trail of murder and mayhem. One of the main characters in the movie, Margie, is the pregnant police officer who finally succeeds in putting an end to the crime spree.
At the conclusion of the movie and with a suspect apprehended and secure in the back of her police vehicle, she looks into the rear view mirror and addresses her prisoner with a long list of the terrible incidents that have taken place and then says:
“… I just don’t understand it. For what? For a little bit of money? There is more to life than a little money you know. Don’t you know that?”
Margie’s words crept into my thoughts over the last two months as the ripples from the sub prime mortgage mess gathered momentum. As the crisis grew to global proportions, I found myself muttering, on more than a few occasions, “For what? For a little bit of money?”
Of course I recognize that it is not a “little bit of money,” it is a lot of money! Investigations will no doubt probe the source of the crisis and there will surely be efforts to hold accountable those responsible. Chances are pretty good that no matter where the investigations end up, the issues of ethical leadership, transparency, business practices, and accountability will be scrutinized in the process.
As examples go, this crisis is proving to be a doozie. Here are a few observations I formed:
– Our lives and our fortunes are far more vulnerable than we may have realized a few weeks ago, and more interconnected as well.
– We all benefit when the organizations we work for, do business with, and invest in, are guided by great leaders with courage who value sound business practices and impeccable ethics.
– We can’t just throw up our hands in frustration because problems and solutions seem too big or because we feel too powerless. We have power–the power to make a difference–in our personal lives and our workplaces.
– What do good and bad ethics have in common with Whooping Cough? All can be contagious under the right circumstances!