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A Very Important Person

VIPI’ve been paying some attention to what’s been going on in the Rod Blagojevich trial in Chicago.  There really haven’t been any big surprises, except for the testimony from a government analyst who provided detailed evidence of the clothing purchases of Blagojevich and his wife during the time he was the governor of Illinois.

Apparently, over a period of six years, Blagojevich and his wife purchased over $400,000 in clothing – just for themselves!  Despite the fact that the Blagojevich’s wore high priced clothing, no one seemed to notice what they were wearing when they were out in public.  

I’m still trying to figure out what evidence Blago’s lawyers are going to offer to try to create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors.  One thing I’m looking forward to is the cross examination of Blagojevich by the prosecuting attorney.  He’s not going to be able to get away with shooting off his mouth from the witness stand.  The prosecuting attorney will be able to pick him apart by forcing him to answer questions he’s been able to avoid up until now.

Anyway, after the testimony about the clothing purchases came out, the Chicago Sun Times, published an editorial on its web site that said, in part:

Blagojevich and his wife blew $400,000 on clothes alone in the six years he was governor, while he disparaged and largely ignored the actual business of governing.

It is a lesson we hope to remember (OK, yea, we endorsed Gov. Rod twice) as we size up the current race for governor between incumbent Pat Quinn and state Sen. Bill Brady.

Character counts before all else.  Real accomplishments count.

And all else, if there is anything else, comes third.

So there you have it.  After falling for the silver-tongued crook on two separate occasions, the editors of the venerable Chicago Sun Times have (finally) come to the conclusion that we should only vote for individuals who have character and real accomplishments.

Why would a man like Blagojevich lie and cheat to get what he wanted?  With his talents and skills, he could have been successful without engaging in criminal behavior.  How is it that he was able to pull the wool over so many people’s eyes and get elected twice as governor of Illinois?

I’m afraid that the behavior of Rod Blagojevich was (and is) no different than the behavior of a large share of the adult population in this country.

We live in an age where people crave importance so much that they’re willing to lie, cheat and steal in order to become important in the eyes of other people – without having to first accomplish anything of any significant value.  There is a large percentage of people who are not willing to sacrifice the hours, days, weeks, months and years that are required to rise to a level of great accomplishment. 

Real accomplishment requires perseverance, resilience, pain, struggle, deprivation, self-sacrifice, and repeated periods of isolation from loved ones.

The typical “performer” doesn’t work at setting goals and building upon one major accomplishment after another.  Instead, he quits his job and travels to the “big city” to audition for American Idol with 50,000 other underachievers.  Or he gets tattooed all over the place, has various parts of his body pierced, records an outrageous video, and then uploads it on YouTube, hoping someone with some clout will discover him.

The typical “athlete” thinks it’s too much trouble to get to bed early so he can wake up at 5:00 in the morning to train for two hours before he starts his day (which would be a real accomplishment in and of itself).  Instead, he takes the path of least resistance, works out when it’s convenient, and takes performance enhancing drugs so he can have an “edge” over his competition.

The typical “employee” becomes adept at making excuses for his inability to get things done as promised, and never seems to be able to accomplish the simple feat of showing up promptly for appointments and other commitments.  Instead of doing the work that is necessary to properly perform his job, he “wings it” and “flies by the seat of his pants,” relying on his personality and charm to help him get out of doing the job he was hired to do.

The typical “politician” becomes a master manipulator who is adept at maximizing contributions to his campaign by pitting one group of people against another.  His only “accomplishment” is that he is able to continuously get reelected by convincing enough people to vote for him (in exchange for some unearned financial “assistance”).  His lust for power knows no bounds.

The typical “Catholic” says all of the right things to “prove” to others that he is a believer in Jesus Christ and His Church, while in reality he continues to focus on serving himself, instead of serving God and his neighbor.  He never seems to get past his own pride and selfishness.

So you have the performer, the athlete, the employee, the politician, and even the Catholic, who all crave importance without any real accomplishment.

Why does it take a newspaper in Chicago, Illinois, to remind us (in the middle of a criminal trial of a former governor) that we should never elect someone to a position of leadership who has no real accomplishments?  Nobody should have to teach us such an elementary lesson.

What was the temptation of the serpent when he approached Eve and convinced her to take a bite of the apple?  He appealed to her pride by promising that she would become a very important person – more important than God – without having to first accomplish anything.

That same temptation haunts all of us.  It’s built into our fallen human nature.  We all have an inner desire to be important – to our family members, friends, peers, and co-workers.  We must guard against this temptation and instead choose to do the heavy lifting that is necessary to achieve a long record of accomplishments.

When we face God on judgment day, He may very well ask each of us this one question: “With the gifts I gave you, what did you accomplish in your lifetime for the Kingdom of God?”   I’m going to be prepared to answer that question when I meet God.  You may want to do the same. 

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