Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bernie Madoff: Metaphor

I admit that it has been hard to focus on work today with Bernie Madoff just having being sentenced to a nice long FOREVER stay in prison for pulling off "perhaps the biggest swindle in Wall Street History," according to 1010 WINS, which I just checked a little while ago, having struck a bargain with myself that I would not stoop to watching television during work hours...but radio was okay.

In response to the handing down of his sentence, Bernie said he was "deeply sorry and ashamed."

Really warms the heart.

Does nothing, of course, for his victims, all of whom are recorded in excruciating detail in a PDF file I downloaded this morning from one of the myriad blogs and sites that have been reporting on L'affair Madoff.

Recorded in microscopic print, the file went to 160-plus pages.

Contained therein are thousands of individual, family, foundation, institution and company names. Many are familiar. Some are associates.

Midway through, I had to avert my eyes.

This list of names reminded me of other such lists.

Victims of 9/11.

Victims of the Shoah.

There is closure today, but only in a symbolic Law and Order kinda way. Closure, really, for the spectators of this drama. Restitution and true justice for Madoff's victims -- the honest, hardworking individuals who are ruined, the charitable institutions and our society at large -- might be impossible to secure.

So, rabbi's daughter that I am, I turn to the metaphysics of Madoff, seeking to find something of meaning in this terrible matter.

What, I ponder, does Bernie Madoff tell us about ourselves as a society?

Or, in a more Pollyannish vein -- what is the silver lining of this crime? What good might come out of it?

I listen closely.

But there is no voice from the whirlwind, no comfort to be gleaned.

Instead, the sobering words of Ecclesiastes, old King Solomon imparting his sad wisdom at the end of days: Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.

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