An Enlightened Lesson from “Charlie Wilson’s War”

Over the holidays I had the opportunity to watch the movie Charlie Wilson’s War. For anyone interested in politics or simply how government works, this movie is an absolute must. Despite the drunkenness and debaucher the movie contained valuable lessons for the Enlightened Entrepreneur.

My favorite lesson comes at the very end of the feature file. The movie concludes with US Congressman Charlie Wilson (played by Tom Hanks) sitting in a US Congressional sub-committee meeting with 3 colleagues. Charlie is petitioning his fellow congressman to appropriate $1M for the reconstruction of schools in Afghanistan. The congressmen laugh. Charlie reminds his colleagues that the US just invested over $1 billion helping Afghan freedom fighters resist a Soviet invasion to remain a free country. To ensure this not happen again, Charlie pleads with them to appropriate $1 million toward the reconstruction of schools in Afghanistan so the children will be educated and not fall prey to a future power vacuum and/or dictator.

Oh do Charlie’s colleagues laugh. Once and for all, they say no, and tell him that he is crazy. They quickly move on to the next item on their agenda. And then, in the last scene, Charlie murmurs these words “that ball, it keeps bouncing.” The colleagues ask Charlie what the hell he is talking about, Charlie reiterates. His colleagues dismiss his words and the cameras fade to black.

Enlightened Entrepreneurs can glean from this a valuable lesson: there is danger in being penny wise and pound foolish. Simply put, consider the long term. In the short term, these congressmen saved US taxpayers $1 million by not supporting the rebuilding of Afghan schools. Long term, an uneducated Afghan populous fell prey to the power vacuum knows as the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. Tyrant rule came to the country, building to an unwelcome and unimagined crescendo that we know as September 11, 2001

It is estimated now that US taxpayers have invested well over $1 trillion dollars on the war on terror in both Afghanistan and Iraq. No price can be put on the lives that have been lost.

In your life and mine, that ball will keep on bouncing. Charlie Wilson’s provides a lesson for us all. Don’t loose sight of the “big” picture.