Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stone him, stone him, stone him...!!!

Bernard Madoff, 70, bilked and swindled 'investors' out of more than 64 billion dollars in what is arguably Walls Street's grandest ponzi scheme, over a period of more than thirty years. No one was safe, from actor Kevin Bacon, to Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, to Charities and foundations, everyone fell under the greed-driven 'knife' of Madoff's unrelenting pursuit of wealth. Evidently, his 'apparent success' gave him the Chairmanship of NASDAQ for a season, as well as a comfortable 7 million dollar penthouse in ritzy Manhattan. For years Madoff lived the good life, deceiving and manipulating people out of their life's savings. The revelation of his duplucity caused some of his investors to commit suicide, while others lined up in court wanting to catch a glimpse of the man to whom they'd entrusted their livelihoods.

Here's what Madoff had to say in response to his crimes: "I am actually grateful for this opportunity to publicly comment about my crimes, for which I am deeply sorry and ashamed..." Seriously? You've just destroyed the lives of myriad people and you have the gall to think that all you have to do is say you're "sorry and ashamed," and that makes it all better? I know this kind of disheartening and dishonest experience first hand (albeit on a much smaller scale), except that the hedge fund in which I invested was run by a self-professed Christian man who was "looking to help build the Kingdom of God" but decided to take a detour along the way and build an empire for himself. Sadly, to his families great chagrin, he is languishing in a maximum security prison for an interminable amount of time as retribution for his 'empire building.' I have prayed for this man and his family, knowing that the consequences of his choices are more far reaching than he can ever hope to understand or imagine.

This past Sunday in church, we discussed the story of the woman caught in adultery. We highlighted the fact that Jesus, while not condoning her actions, did not condemn her even though she was caught in "the very act of adultery." Brought to him by the pharisees for judgment, they armed themselves with their rocks of dishonor ready to stone her to death in penalty for her choices. But Jesus said, and I paraphrase, "I'm sympathetic to your position and fully well understand the law of Moses that requires that you stone to death anyone caught in adultery (forget the fact that the man with whom she had committed adultery had been conveniently left out of their judgmental blood lust), I would however suggest that whichever one of you that's without sin cast the first stone." Well, incase you're unfamiliar with the end of that story, each one of the men, beginning from the oldest to the youngest, slowly dropped their rocks and walked away. Here's a sampling of one of Madoff''s investors reactions: "I don't think he has a sincere bone in his body, I'd stone him to death." So, what do you think? Should we all pick up a few rocks as we head out the door to work today, just in case?


Hope said...

It's so easy for me to forgive when I've really lost nothing. I've had to forgive someone who stole my innocence over and over again as a child. It took me many years to forgive. I walked around with a stone in my pocket for a long time and sometimes yes, I wanted to throw it. The only thing that stopped me - was that I knew He wanted something better for me and the person I needed to forgive. I don't carry around that stone anymore. It makes walking a lot easier.