…for years I have mused and mostly joked about a non-existent, mythical and fantastic place called Alfieland where ‘Alfie’ (that would be me) creates the laws, rules and modus operandi for all of its citizens. It is not for everyone, but for those who can pass the entrance exam, I think it might be a pretty cool place to reside…especially for Alfie who would essentially enjoy the station of ‘benevolent dictator.’ Then again, Emperor for Life’ has a nice ring. I’d be the first to admit there is nothing inviting about being a citizen in a dictatorship, but Alfieland is not that of Pol Pot’s Cambodia or the like, but rather a place where all of its citizens are reasonably like minded about taking responsibility for themselves and those within in their charge like children, students, elderly parents, employees, etc. That ‘like-mindedness’ is nothing more than applying common sense in how one may come at the world which has apparently gone mad. Citizens in Alfieland are free willed rather than disciples who are sworn to loyalty and forced to subscribe to dogma and ideology of any kind. This is not Stepford. It is a place where individuality is respected. If uncomfortable with life in Alfieland, any citizen may exit via a simple demand with or without cause and absent fear of reprisal. Sound interesting?
The entrance exam is quite simple. It poses only one question to which the correct answer is one of a possible two. You have to choose between: “Criminal”, or “Not a Criminal.” The scenario is…a man walks into a liquor store; pulls a ski mask over his face; produces a .38 caliber pistol; points the weapon at the clerk’s head; demands all the cash from the register then threatens the clerk with his life if not compliant. If any exam taker answers anything but “Criminal,” he/she/they may not be admitted. In the real world, that question may beg more questions such as: What time of day was it? What race is the perpetrator? From what kind of family did he emanate? What did he have for breakfast? Is he on meds? Is he a victim of society’s ills, etc.? Anything other than an immediate response selecting “Criminal” denies you admittance. Any additional questions posed, the poser will suffer a similar fate. Simple? One might think so in a reasonable world. I’ll bet my Christmas/Chanukah money ( I am half Italian and half Jewish) that when asked, most people would want to learn more prior to providing an answer…very admirable. But this is where we begin to discriminate between two distinctly separate groups… those who have cognitive brain function where reason prevails and those who are without common sense whom we colloquially call…morons. That is not intended as a clinical term but it is a disorder closely related to another…‘shit for brains’ which is an incurable disease.
I know, I know…you might think I’m some sort of right wing Nazi zealot who is insensitive to those who may be under served. Not so! Gun totin,’ tobacco chewin,’ pick up drivin’, gay hatin,’ sheet wearin,’ god fearin,’ Rush lovin’ rightys are entitled to their belief system just as those who are Birkenstock wearing, hot tub soaking, merlot swigging, pot smoking, Clooney loving,’ beard growing, tree hugging ‘ lefty libs’ are entitled to theirs. Both ilks are rife with emotion and absent reason when drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid. I reckon those to be fundamentalists in their own way. In Alfieland, there is freedom to believe in what you will, but reason and common sense must rule the day. I, Alfie, welcome all provided that unconditional subscription to dogma and ideology without critical analysis is left at the threshold. Trust what you believe more than those who are selling it…but no Kool-Aid!
If admitted to Alfieland, there are three requirements for all to maintain citizenship:
1…watch edited versions of The Godfather I and II, multiple times (editing is for the benefit of young children). All components of our lives are examined such as loyalty, family, prioritization, accountability, responsibility, honesty, hypocrisy, compassion, wisdom, strength, self control, discipline, commitment, competition, courage, preparation, and vision to name a few. This is the fabric of that saga. Puzzo got it right in telling his ‘fictional’ tale of Don Corleone and “family,” and its lessons may be applied universally.
2…participate or have participated in competitive sport and it does not matter which one(s). The lessons gleaned from training and competition are a real slice of life where the stakes are relatively small. So you loose a game, or a meet or a match. Big deal. You can seek redemption next time out. What are the benefits of sport (aside from the physiological ones) you might ask? Well…refer to requirement one. Other lessons learned by participating are goal setting, following rules, socialization, visualization, expectations, and to win with grace and lose with dignity. Further, the art and science of de-constructing failures becomes an integral part of the process so that next time out, there is progress toward a better outcome. Like I said, sport provides a real slice of life in the gyms, fields, courts and pools which are laboratories where good coaches make ‘menches.’ Competitive athletics was and still is a ‘builder’ of character despite its creep into becoming a ‘revealer.’ Good coaches know this and do their best to inspire the notion of doin’ the right thing.
3…you must commit 2 years of life to service without any ‘meaningful’ financial compensation. This may be fulfilled in many possible ways, but you must make ‘it’ better (what ever that’ it’ may be) and you must be part of something that has purpose and meaning beyond self. The military, municipal venues, charitable endeavors, the Peace Corps, missions (other than religious), etc. are good for starters but service is not limited to those few.
Citzens in Alfieland like the following quote entitled “The Ten Cannots” written by William John Henry Boetcker and published in 1916.:
- You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
- You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
- You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
- You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
- You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
- You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
- You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
- You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
- You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence.
- You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.