By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
Los Angeles lost a great personality this past week with the passing of Dr. Jerry Buss. What do bureaucracies and Dr. Buss have in common? NOTHING. Which is exactly my point. While I did not know Dr. Buss, I watched him, as did most Angelenos.
Dr. Buss bought the Lakers at a time when they were an okay team. He set about to Redeem the team and the city of Los Angeles. Because he was immersed in his life and his work, he found ways to reinvent the team and the city many times during his tenure at the helm of the Lakers. He was a man who valued relationships as much and/or more than money. He was a man who hated mediocrity and mendacity. He cared about and took care of people. He never forgot about the "common man" roots he came from and, while he lived as a rich man, he kept true to the principles of decency and honor. He did not settle for "whatever," "why bother," etc.
Bureaucrats and Bureaucracies, on the other hand, do feed on "whatever," "why bother,” "we can't do this,” "you don't fit our criteria,” etc. I, like all of us, have dealt with these people often. Customer Service is an oxymoron these days. They don't serve the customer; they serve the company/bureaucracy. The "I'm sorry you feel this way,” "these are the rules" responses are designed to never admit error and turn the issue into someone else's fault (usually ours)! This is the exact opposite of Dr. Buss and Redemption.
We are in a Great War in our Country. We have the example of Dr.Buss who saw his own errors and worked hard to change them. We have the example of large and small companies, Government, individuals who blame errors on "the other guy.” This Great War is being fought every day. We are the soldiers and the battlefield is our living well or settling for mediocrity and mendacity. I am "Addicted to Redemption" and I fight for living well. I have the scars and wounds from this war. I am not perfect and therefore I can be written off by many. I have a sordid past and this can be used against me. I am a Rabbi and I don't "act like a regular Rabbi.” I co-lead a community that is invested in living well and not settling. I believe with every fiber of my being that mediocrity and mendacity are against God's Will. I believe in and fight for the dignity and uniqueness of each individual.
Bureaucracies work to make everyone the same. They take individuality, creativity and dignity away from people. They want everything vanilla. Dr. Buss saw the individual worth of his people, players, fans, office, family and friends. He respected and encouraged their individuality and taught and inspired them to be part of the collective. Dr. Buss created and kept alive SHOWTIME! Bureaucracy kills and buries uniqueness.
While Dr. Buss wasn't Jewish and I don't know his connection to religion, he lived a life that coincides with Jewish Thinking. He lived with passion, purpose, error and brilliance, kindness and love. He lived a life of Redemption of Truth, being the best he could in any given moment and unafraid to show and be a whole human being.
This Great War will be won when all of us, or at least 51% of us, follow Jewish Thinking and Dr. Jerry Buss' examples and not Bureaucracy! Please join me as a soldier in this Great War and let's stamp out mediocrity and mendacity and be worthy of the legacy Dr. Buss leaves us with.