Monday 20 November 2006

Hearts and Minds

For K.T., my editor-in-chief and general manager

(It’s not a misuse of word at all. I know well what ‘editor-in-chief’ and ‘general manager’ of a television mean.)

In our meeting at late of September 15th (the last meeting of VNN TV as you may call), there were three faces that I noticed the most: N.A.T., CEO; Trinh Hang, deputy director; and K.T., editor-in-chief and general director of VNN TV.

I am not going to talk much about the two formers because they are to me no more than the embodiment of corruption, although there is a clear difference between the two. Yet I would like to insist upon the sympathy and tolerance we should pay to a leader like the CEO of VASC in this country. I believe, though with much misguided sensibility, that N.A.T. is a talented and zealous CEO, only that he drops out too easily sometimes, and he is not an infallible man as a CEO above all. So, chief, I don't totally blame you for all these failures. Hopefully I can see the hardships you've gone through, even the loneliness you may have to suffer as a leader from time to time. But I can't sympathize with your managerial skills, though. I can't support this system as long as I see how ignorance, mismanagement, and corruption cause tears to eyes.

Nevertheless, on a larger scale, tolerance for the government is something required from us. Apart from corruption, the government is not always an evil one. I feel there are things that they really want to do, but they fail all the time for just one reason: mismanagement, which is preceded by ignorance. At the most we can accuse them of mismanaging the society, not of intentionally ruining the country.

What called much attention from me was, once again, the story of hearts and minds.

When I looked at K.T. sitting silently next to the CEO of VASC, I suddenly thought of Ho Chi Minh, Staline, and even Hitler. It was such an absurd association, wasn’t it? Image I recalled what my friend said once in this blog, “The mind is nothing without the heart; it's just dead knowledge… Why could Hitler talk thousand of able-minded Germans into supporting his cause?”

I see now that people react emotionally indeed to everything that hits their minds. Yes, it’s true that even the most logical, educational presentation evokes an emotional response. Although people may want to believe they are being completely logical in evaluating someone or something, their basic emotional reaction most influences their evaluation.

I see now, boss, that no matter what others may say, you have left good impressions and imprints on the hearts and minds of all staffs in this bankrupt television. Don’t ever worry that someone among the 150 laid-off people here would ill speak of you. They believe in you enough so that no one can tarnish your image. Theif belief is real and comes from hearts. They see you as the most devoted boss, the kindest boss, in comparison with so many other evil leaders. They see in you and share with you the dream of building VNN TV into a large television empire. They see in you the pains and torment, and share with you the broken dream and missed chances. In sum, they believe in you because what you have said and done is more than enough to convince their hearts.

I see now that to be a prominent leader, one must find the way that leads to human hearts, not human minds. And to open human hearts, one must open their heart first and be true to themselves. Staline and Hitler are examples of such. With a firm belief in hearts, they drove people’s emotions to such an extent that even the most logical man lost his reason and became their follower.

An ordinary person with logical thinking would never think of flinging himself into war zone, devoting his youth to war, or sacrificing his life to the nation’s cause of liberation. But Staline's words touched millions of Soviet hearts, erasing all reasons of their minds, and finally driving millions of Soviet youth into the last sacrifice. And so did Hitler's, though his were so destructive as lethal weapons, evoking emotional responses for a devil cause. I think Hitler was not a liar or a demagog; he did have a strong belief in the cause of making an ideal nation-state for his people.

However, those men were successful to some extent, while we’ve failed and lost. There are countless reasons to explain why, but this is not an important thing anymore. The only thing that I would love to highlight is that a great leader is the one who captures and controls human hearts to the point that people lose all reasons.