The Meaning of Family

“A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”
– Don Corleone to Johnny Fontane in The Godfather Part I

In this scene, Johnny, one of the Don’s godchildren, visits the Don at the Don’s daughter’s wedding asking for help. The Don inquires about Johnny’s family life, and Johnny reveals that he really hasn’t spent much time with them at all. (Granted, Johnny is divorced but had two daughters with his ex.)

Johnny is in show business and he still horses around with young starlets and gets wasted when he can. He hasn’t “grown-up.” So I guess, in this context, the Don means that Johnny is not a real man because he doesn’t take life seriously, as one does when he has a family to look after.

Some parents who neglect their families are just very dedicated to their work. Is that a bad thing? Are they not “real men/women”? I think the Don is also trying to say that those who don’t make family a priority aren’t living virtuously. His emphasis on the value of family makes me feel like the mafia as better people. Anyway, I think if one decides to start a family and have children, then he or she should already know that a family is a HUGE part of one’s life and therefore requires a lot of time. If work is too consuming and he doesn’t want to give up some time of work for the family, then he should not have a family.

Personally, family is one of the most important parts of life. Some people don’t have families, like Tom Hagen, but they meet people and find those that can act as their families. Family keeps us going. No matter what, they are there. If a father puts power-hunger above family, missing dance recitals or award ceremonies for extra meetings and additional work, then he is not a real man. He doesn’t value those who value him most. He doesn’t appreciate what he will always have. He does not see his impact on those who think he can lift the universe (-yes, I used to think my dad was so strong he could life the universe at one point in my life). He is too selfish, and family is not an area to be selfish in.

As I write this, I feel guilty of my own selfishness. I am terrible at keeping in contact with my family since college. It’s not that I don’t value them or love them, but I get so distracted and busy. But that is a totally different situation than a father who LIVES in the same house as his children and wife and still neglects them.

In short, I think the moral of the message is that those who don’t value their family are selfish and not virtuous.

Dat Netwerk.

“Even the strongest man needs friends…Politics is knowing when to pull the trigger.”

Don Lucchesi to Vincent, Michael Corleone’s nephew, from The Godfather Part III

As much as I’d like to deny it, who you know is almost as, if not more, important than what you know.  I don’t agree with Don Lucchesi’s remarks about manipulating people, but I do recognize the necessity of networking.  Personal contacts can make a huge difference in whether or not one gets a job.  Unfortunately, sometimes this can mean that the most qualified candidate may lose to a less qualified candidate because that lesser candidate “knows the right people.”  But I think that “knowing the right people” as a way of getting a job can be justified.

To me, this is really a question of loyalty versus objectiveness.  How would you feel if you were applying to a job that your parent was the boss of and she picked a candidate that may has a stronger resume than you, but you both meet the positon’s requirements.  (I haven’t experienced this personally, but I’ve seen a similar situation on the show “Revenge.”)  I’d hate to be that other candidate that would lose the job to a family relation, but I can’t tell if I’d hate that more than being the kid that gets rejected by his or her own parent.

From the parental end, does the parent stay loyal to his or her child by picking the son/daughter?  Or does the parent remain loyal to the company and pick the candidate that would suit the company best?  One could argue that family comes first in everything about life. At the same time, one could argue that business is business and should not be taken personally.

There is so much hypocrisy and contradiction in the rationale of the mobsters.

The Trust Factor

“”Your father did business with Hyman Roth; Your father respected Hyman Roth; But your father never trusted Hyman Roth.”

hyman_roth (Do you think you can trust this guy?  It’s Hyman Roth and he really manipulated Michael all throughout The Godfather Part II.)

-Respect vs. trust is a fine line – or is it?  Respect can be very impersonal.  You can respect someone you don’t agree with, but trust runs pretty deep.  Can you trust someone you don’t respect?

I think trust relates to personal judgement.  I think trust is completely rooted in one’s personal interest and views.  If you know someone who is obsessed with money, you’re not going to loan them $50 and expect them to pay you back, regardless of whether you respect them or not.

I think the main difference between trust and respect is intimate connection.  You can respect someone without really even knowing them.  For instance, I respect all authority to some degree because they are in authority, or they have great credentials or their have a history of immaculate ethics and a notable open mind. With these traits, I don’t even have to meet the person to know I respect them.

However, when it comes to trust, different terms are at stake.  Trust puts that other individual in a responsible position, while respect merely puts person at an even position.  I would like to think you don’t have to respect someone you trust.  However, in order to trust someone, you have to know that their interests coincide with yours so that your stake isn’t at risk.

Thus, I feel like Don Corleone makes logical sense.  You can respect someone without necessarily trusting them, but gaining trust requires more than just respect.