12/04/2009 12:48:00 am

World Leaders in the Workplace

Posted by Tom French |

I spent the last few days at work ushering for a man who just happens to be the exiled leader of a small, oppressed country and a leader of a major world religion. I cannot say more than that just in case you figure out who it was.

Anyway this guy, who we'll call Willy, gave three days of lectures. 2 days were about his religion, and one day was about the future of the world. I was rather excited about seeing Willy because he's regarded as one of the great world leaders for peace and love. Like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr and the like. I was hoping to learn more about Willy's religion and perhaps get inspired a little to spread a bit more peace and love around.

Sadly, Willy was kinda dull. He was a cute, old man, who had an adorable laugh. But for the first two days he seemed to just sit on stage and waffle in his broken English about whatever came to mind. It wasn't offensive at all, but it was like going to visit a nice old man for tea with 5,000 other people. I don't think he'd prepared any thing to say, he just said stuff.

For three quarters of the time he spoke in his native language, doing commentary about commentaries on his faith. It was excruciatingly boring. I would race to open the door for patrons whenever they looked like they were going to leave the arena just to give me something to do.

While Willy was talking I looked around the arena at his devotees and 10% of them in the afternoon sessions would have been asleep, and 50% looked totally bored.

Today Willy gave a public lecture which was a bit more interesting because he spoke in English the whole time and answered questions from the audience. When he answered questions he'd answer it from the view point of a believer and a non-believer.

For instance he was asked "Why do good things happen to bad people?"

His answer was "From a theistic viewpoint, God knows. From a Buddhist view point, karma. From a non-believer's view point, it's a mystery. Next question."

It felt a little odd for me that he could be so flexible with truth. As far as I can tell it's totally impossible for all three viewpoints to be right at the same time. I reckon it's a little insulting to all viewpoints to present them as just as equally valid as each other. It seems rather patronising, like "Ok, you believe that, it's good for you, so good for you. You just find your answers and I'll find mine and we'll all be happy." Which is just totally dismissive as if your view doesn't matter at all. As a Christian, I'd rather Willy said "Christianity is wrong and my view point is right and this is why." Because then at lease he's engaging with the faith, rather than just dismissing it to the realm of harmless self-fulfilment.

Anyway Willy's main point in the end seemed to be "If possible, help others, and at the very least, harm no-one." Which is very nice. And if all Willie's followers stuck to that the world would be a nicer, or at very least, a much more harmless place.

When he said that people went "Mmm" and then stood up and gave Willy a standing ovation (it was also the end), as if Willy had just given some new, amazing wisdom. I can't help but think, if that's the best these people have heard, they need to do more reading. It sounds rather weak to me. "Do good, or at very least, don't be bad" sounds like Google's "Don't be evil." Maybe I'm being a little spoiled, but Jesus said much more radically world changing things that that, Gandhi did too. I reckon most of my friends and family have too.

It also surprised me that you can get 5,000 people to come and hear one of the least dynamic world leaders around. I reckon Willy was probably more boring to listen to than Rudd (though a lot cuter than Rudd, no one wants to pinch Rudd's cheeks). When a Christian speaker comes they have to be pretty good at communicating to draw a crowd of 5,000 people. But Christian speakers have to draw a crowd with their communication abilities, Willy I think draws a crowd with his office and the fact that many believe Willy is the reincarnation of the Willy before him, who is the Willy before him, and so on going back many Willies into the past. Willy gets love not because of anything he's done, but by an identity given to him without his choosing, the Christian speaker on the other hand gets love purely on the basis of the quality of their work. Ironic, perhaps?

Anyway, all that said, I'm happy to have seen Willy. I can't see him being a bad influence on the world. He's certainly spreading peace and love around, Like the lBeatle but with less drugs and swooning girls. And if he keeps putting people to sleep, that'll be good for their health too. He also has a great laugh. I'd be happy to have him as an adoptive Grandpa any day. Along with Gandalf. Then I could have three great Grandpas. That'd be pretty awesome.

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