“Never tell anybody outside the family what you’re thinking again.”
These words were spoken from Don Vito Corleone to his son Sonny (pictured above) after a conference with a potential client, Sollozzo. Sonny’s disagreement with the Don in front of Sollozzo caused an attempt to be made on the Don’s life – rather than get into the details of the film and whatnot, I’ll point out the importance of this statement.
The Don must have read his military strategic books to learn the threat of the concept “divide and conquer.” Don Vito did not want it to be known that the family was at odds with an issue because the enemy would use the discord in the family to its advantage and “divide and conquer” the Corleones. (Seeing that Sonny, the upcoming Don, agreed with Sollozzo, Sollozzo figured he could just kill the current Don and then the Corleones would be on-board with his proposal because Sonny, the new Don, would be. Slightly different scenario than “divide and conquer”, but the strategy of utilizing conflicting interests in the family is present.)
Though a completely different situation, I saw the wisdom of the Godfather come out during my English class senior year. My English teacher told me that she never disagreed with her husband in front of her kids. She said she did so because she didn’t want her kids to think that they could manipulate my teacher and her husband to getting what they wanted by using the discord between the parents to their advantage.
Looking back at how my family works, I never realized how much I manipulated my parents in the past. I knew what my mom would let me do that my dad wouldn’t
and vice versa,
so that I could ask permission first from the right parent. I feel horrible about it now, but this wisdom of the Godfather makes me see it as only natural. Had they appeared to be of one mind and one opinion, I would have never been able to manipulate them at all. However, they exposed their disagreements and so I naturally used it to my advantage.