written by: Bob Jensen
Satellite trucks filled the parking lot from end to end. BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, CBC, this was going to be the biggest story of its kind in a very long time. The conference centre was filled to capacity, two thousand-plus, and the air was crisp with anticipation. It had been years since anyone had seen the legendary, illusive CEO, and many even believed that he was dead, but today he would face the cameras for what was being billed as the biggest reboot of any such institution, ever. After what seemed an eternity of controversy, bickering and divergence, the founder himself was going to set the record straight, get the runaway train back on the tracks, so to speak.
Rumours had swirled in the media. Some said he had a new vision of where to take the organization, others that he was planning on going to the grassroots to ingeminate the tried and true. Some said he would be arriving on a chopper, others, that he would deliver his speech via video conference call. No one could yet confirm that he was in town although reports of sightings trickled in from every part of the city, adding to the media furor. New York had not seen such intensity over a visit since the Beatles first arrived to perform on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964.
As the hour of the highly anticipated speech drew near, all networks cut away to New York to go live. Even seasoned broadcasters could not contain their own excitement at what was about to transpire and the potential global ramifications. Experts spoke over each other, anxiously postulating what kind of news the countless stakeholders might receive and how it would impact the innumerable offices around the world, many of which conducted their affairs very differently from each other.
At 6:30 P.M. the hall went live as millions tuned in from every continent on computers, cell phones and televisions. All cameras focused on the stage as the lights came up and the world awaited a formal introduction. But as the minutes ticked away, none came. There was no music, no drama, none of the gimmicks people had come to expect from this sort of event. At exactly 7:00 P.M. a man walked through the centre of the crowd and up to the stage, taking a small stairway onto the platform. He wore a grey hoody, blue jeans and running shoes that appeared to have been around the block more than a few times. Was this a prank? Was this the man who would introduce the fabled CEO? The man’s brown eyes gazed across the room, taking in the moment, and then he spoke into a single microphone in the middle of the naked stage. “Thank you all for coming,” he said in a soft voice. “I’ve been away much too long.
“It saddens me to see how this organization has gone off the rails. We had a common vision and a simple plan; so simple,” he said, “that any child could understand it. And yet it in some jurisdictions, that plan has been turned completely upside down, to the point where it is diametrically opposed to my original intentions.” He spoke slowly and deliberately, and the crowd hung on every word as he stood in front of a large image of his own simple logo, arguably the most famous brand in the world. “I am here to tell you that the leaders of this institution have screwed it up beyond imagining. They have gone completely off-road with the manual and misrepresented my ideas and my intentions in ways that are egregious, self-serving and deliberately misleading. We have been implicated not only in many skirmishes around the world, but in full-blown wars. In fact, I am furious that you, the true stakeholders in this whole endeavour, have been tricked, lied to and manipulated, and there is going to be hell to pay, I assure you.
“So listen up and listen closely, because I am only going to say this once. This is not rocket science, and I dare say you’ve heard it all before. First of all, I refer to the aforementioned manual. It is an easy read and a short one. That was deliberate. And yet, thousands of books, millions of words, have been written about it. The first thing I want to tell you today is this. Throw away those useless books that seek to explain it, all of them. The manual is all you need.
“The second thing I want to say is this. I meant what I said, and I said it plainly. How you managed to confuse some of this stuff really beggars belief. Violence is always wrong, okay? There are no exceptions – none. Killing. I can’t believe I have to stand here and tell you this, but killing is always wrong, no matter what, and so, good grief, is war. This is not what we are about. It is the opposite of what we stand for. The same goes for money. I honestly have to wonder if you people have even read the blessed manual. Are you really that thick? Seriously? You couldn’t understand the parts about money? How could I have made it more plain? Was I talking to the wall?
“Listen, I don’t know what you all expected to hear from me today, but what I have to say is going to be short and sweet, and I will not repeat myself a third time. Are you ready? Okay. Here goes. Don’t ever hurt anyone, not ever, no matter what. Is that clear enough? No exceptions. Share what you have and don’t be greedy, and for the sake of clarity, wanting anything more than you absolutely need – that is greed. I want to reiterate something I once told you very long ago, and that is really all you need to know if you want to be part of this movement. Treat everyone exactly the way you would like them to treat you. It all comes down to that, and if you measure everything you do in your life, the way you interact with others, by this yardstick, you will never need to read or hear another thing from me.
Would you like to be shot? Would you like to be ripped off? Judged? Discriminated against? Denied medicine or education? Would you like your country to be invaded? Exactly. So here’s the deal. You have it straight from the horse’s mouth now. There can be no more excuses. Just read the manual and do what you believe it says you should do. Don’t let anyone else tell you what the manual means. That has been the problem right from the start.
And for those of you who came here today looking for some new message, some secret formula, I’m sorry to disappoint. I will, however, just one last time, repeat myself. If you really want to be part of this movement, go home, right now, and sell all you own and give it to the poor and go out into the world following my example in everything you do. Anyone? Yeah, I thought so.
Now get out of here. Go, and love each other, and for Christ’s sake, follow the manual.
He currently resides in Prince Edward Island, Canada where he works as a booking agent for folk musicians from around the world.
His award winning novel, The Matchbox Funeral, is available on Amazon.