The Real World

Micheal: “My father is no different than any other powerful man — any man who’s
responsible for other people, like a senator or president.”

KAY: “You know how naive you sound…senators and presidents don’t have men killed.”

MC: “Oh, who’s being naive, Kay?”

This was taken from the wedding scene in The Godfather Part I, when Michael begins to tell Kay of his family life.

I think Michael makes a great point, not just about how politics works, but about how everything works.  Unfortunately, not all seemingly clean institutions are all what they appear.  The skepticism that has resulted from many scams in the past has made it hard for legitimate organizations to gain trust.

I hope no one else had to experience this, but while canning for THON, one of my friends was told “This is for beer money, right?” by a driver.  Old people shook their heads as they passed me.  My own uncle questioned what canners were doing because he had just seen them a couple weeks ago.  (I explained that all of the canning is done in the Fall now.)  Unfortunately, there is some inherent skepticism in people about the genuiness of organizations based on seeing the few organizations that are scams get away with so much.

Michael is right, that there is so much more complexity and “dirty work” done behind closed doors that we’ll never really know about.  Unfortunately, this skepticism sometimes translates to the skepticism of good causes.

Public Enemies (or not!)

“Never hate your enemies.  It affects your judgement.” – Michael Corleone to Vincent Mancini, from The Godfather Part III

(In context, Michael is telling Vinny not to kill a foe, Joey Zasa.)

This quote comes from the third installment of The Godfather Saga, which Michael Corleone is regarded as the Don or Godfather, but I’ll still refer to him as Michael because he will never be a true Don to me.

Hate is a strong word.  Though none of us may have hated anyone in particular, I think we have all had some encounter with hate, whether it was seeing hate cause instances in history (the Holocaust) or depicted in a film.  The end-products of hate are rarely pleasant for anyone involved.  (In the case of the Holocaust, millions of Jews died and Hitler ended up killing himself.)  We may have never had enemies, people who have wronged us in such a way to engender hate.  However, I think this piece of advice is still considerably relevant to anyone.

Michael is basically telling Vinny to not let his emotions cause him to make irrational decisions.  I’m sure we’ve all fought with someone and said something that we wouldn’t have normally said to that person – as Mean Girls puts it, “word vomit.”  In the heat of the moment, some things may be said that shouldn’t have been.  The impact is irreversible.  The word vomit or rash action could lead to extremely undersirable consequences.  For example, if Vinny kills Zasa, Vinny’s life is now at stake because Zasa has supporters that would see to Vinny’s death.



“It was from this experience came his oft-repeated belief that every man has but one destiny.”

–          From the novel The Godfather

In context, this part of the story is about when Vito decided to become a Mafioso after having outwitted the current town boss.

vito destiny(Vito Corleone in his early years as he developed his empire – kinda creepy smile, but nonetheless, the smile of someone on the brink of genius!)

Initially, I thought this was a very confining belief.  Only ONE destiny?  However, he did not say that this destiny was predetermined or that we are already on our way to this fate.  I think he meant that there is one life path that suits us perfectly, and it is up to us to find that destiny.

The question is: how do we know we’re on the right path?  How do we know that THIS is what we were meant to be doing?

In college, the alleged place where people “find themselves” and build a knowledge base geared toward a career, I feel there is a lot of pressure to discover that destiny.  The idea of having a specific major adds to that pressure.  At least through certain courses, one can better gauge their level of actual interest in that field.  I have personally seen friends, initially majoring biology and chemistry, switch to majoring in political science and international relations.  They love their classes now (well, as much as one can love school work) and are content with the direction they are headed.  Nothing is more refreshing than hearing about someone slowly progress toward becoming who they were meant to be.


Personally, I have never fully embraced my major.  As I sit studying details about E. coli that I don’t give a cent about while my friends are studying the music of the Beatles or Egyptian mythology, I sometimes question what I am doing with my life.  Would I be more content studying art history or linguistics?  Am I happy now?  Is what I am doing anywhere near what I had pictured my future to be as a child? (Unfortunately, no, I am not a supermodel popstar living in Hawaii.)

britney spearrrs(Britney Spears)

I’m sure I’m not the only who’s had the mid-shower breakdown where you question your entire existence, while reaching for the Dove soap.


There is so much anxiety in uncertainty.   As thrilling as having a thousand options sounds, the variety can be extremely overwhelming.

The Don’s belief that there is one fate set for all of us gives me a lot anxiety that I’ll never find out what/who I’m supposed to be.  However, in the novel, the Don discovered his destiny when he was 25 unexpectedly.  So for now, I think his advice goes out to all of us teeth-brushing contemplators that we should just live our lives and let it all happen.  Because our destiny will meet us eventually.  And once that destiny is found, there will be no such questions, hesitations, or regrets.  There will only be confidence.  Every action will feel purposeful and productive.  Meaning in life will be better understood.

Maybe one, single destiny can be liberating!

Bad News, Soon News

“Mr. Corleone is a man who insists on hearing bad news immediately.”

(Tom Hagen to Wolltz)

Why does he insist on hearing bad news immediately?  Isn’t ignorance bliss?  What are the benefits of being informed of disappointing news as quickly as possible?  Every action of Vito Corleone is deliberate.  There must be some wisdom in knowing upsetting information at moment’s notice.

Depending on the situation, I can see the primary advantage of hearing bad news early is time.  Time to react.  Time to sink in.  Time to strategize.  Time to response.

I went on a three week trip to Europe three summers ago.  One of the counselor leaders of the trip found out her mother died the first day of the trip.  She mustered the strength to stay on the trip to its entirety for her sense of responsibility to the trip and everyone involved.  She could have gone home and helped plan the funeral and the viewing of her blood and heart mother.  But she didn’t.  (No one knew her mother had died until she revealed the news to everyone at the end of the trip.  I only knew that her mom had died the day it had happened because I had accidentally overheard her talking to the other counselors in a room in a museum about it.)  She is the strongest woman I know!  No one could tell she was mourning or slightly bothered.  Her pleasant smile masked any possibility that a tragedy had just befallen her.  (Her joy was to the point where I questioned what I had heard the first day of the trip about her mother’s death.  I figured I had misheard the conversation between the counselors.)

Although she was able to hide her pain, I wonder how her grief molded her whole perspective of everything during the trip.  Would her the experiences have been much more enjoyable if she had not known this heartbreaking news until later?  Or would she have felt even more pain if her family had chosen to keep the news concealed until her return?

Personally, I think it was best that she knew right away.  A mom is a BIG deal – at least in some people’s lives (and I know it was in her’s because I saw her crying to the counselors about it.).  Having the decision to go home or not would have been robbed from her if she had not known until later.  If she had known later, she might have thought she would have wanted to go home given the choice (even though in reality she decided to stay.).

In short, I think the Don is right.  Knowing bad news immediately in critical situations is best!