Jewish Journal

Crime and Punishment (a different take on the Madoff scandal)

by Misha Henckel

June 29, 2009 | 10:02 pm

Misha Henckel is a Los Angeles-based personal and executive life coach. Her executive clients are generally leaders of entertainment and media companies who are focused on re-inventing themselves and re-envisioning their organizations. She is founder of Life Mastery Circles, a workshop series for women, and is co-founding a new organization for empowering and developing women leaders. She can be reached at www.mishahenckel.com or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

It’s the topic du jour: Bernie Madoff sentenced to 150 years in prison. Whoop dee doo! Sure he will suffer and the prosecutors would have made their strong statement, but in my view, little else has been accomplished. Unquestionably, Madoff did a most terrible thing. But was he the only culpable party? The SEC continues to be perfect in their own eyes, and none of the “victims” want to take any meaningful responsibility for their part in being ripped-off. Yes, as a society, it is most convenient for us to blame it all on Bernie. But if we do not address the real source of the problem, it will happen again.

Many, many people participated in building the myth of Bernie Madoff. For years, he was practically a god in the financial world. No one, it seemed, questioned him. With people willingly handing over their personal power, i.e., their capacity to evaluate the validity of something, their ability to gauge the integrity of someone, their judgment - Madoff was able to do whatever he wanted to do with their money. And that, right there, is the core of the problem. The “victims” made themselves into victims. Seems so harsh to say, but we gotta deal with the truth here, otherwise, nothing will change.

Of course when everyone is doing it, it’s easier to lose one’s head and go along with the herd. The Madoff scheme is a glaring example of how we can completely lose sight of reality and just buy into whatever seems to be the thing to do. Not unlike Bush, Congress and the WMDs. Isn’t it time for us as a society to wake up and really see what’s in front of us? Isn’t it time for us to step out of the mythology that we seem so enmeshed in, and deal with reality?

Our personal power is meant to be kept and utilized, by us, as a force in our day to day lives. It’s not for giving away to anyone else. Whether they run Wall Street, the White House, or our synagogue, it matters naught. - We must blindly follow no one. Our capacity to reason, our intuition, our judgment is meant to be used by each of us to shape lives that really work for us.

In today’s rapidly morphing world, we dearly need our capacity to discern truth from untruth, right from wrong, and light from darkness. Handing that power over to anyone else is nothing short of suicidal.

No one can do for you or me what we must do for ourselves. We need to remove the veils of fear that conspire to keep us trapped in a herd mentality. And we must open our minds, our hearts, and our eyes, so that we can choose the best course of action in every area of our lives.

Email me with your questions and I will be happy to respond. Answers will be anonymously posted to the blog.

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Misha Henckel is a Los Angeles–based branding specialist and the CEO/Founder of True Face Branding. After more than a decade as a leading life coach, Misha now works with...

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