Chadwick: What We Need Now—A Lesson from the Movies

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The week after Christmas is always my favorite time to go to the movies. Shopped out, and with no more appetite for food, the indulgence of sitting (popcorn free) for two hours in the cinema is sublime. I choose my movies carefully. I am not a “special effects” person; blood and guts disgust me. So my list of possible movies to attend is always far shorter than most people’s.

This past week, I saw four movies and did not regret going to one. In case that sounds a bit like damning with faint praise, I should clarify by saying that of the four, one movie stood out from all the rest. It was 'Invictus.' The combination of brilliant acting by Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon as well as the deep message was a moving experience. At times I actually forgot that Morgan Freeman was on the screen – I thought I was looking at Nelson Mandela. (You can watch the movie trailer below.)

The movie seemed so perfectly timed, so relevant and so needed right now. It depicted national leadership at its best – the ability of a man, despised by so many, to rally his country together against all odds and to find the best in each other. It actually brought tears to my eyes on several occasions.

The economic and social problems of South Africa in the mid-1990s were far graver than those we face here in the U.S. today. The political divisions among its citizens were far deeper than those existing in our country now. But as elected President, Nelson Mandela led his country and his countrymen and women by his own example. He did more than just cross the aisle, to use American parlance. He forced people who hated each other to come together, to work together and to achieve greatness through that bonding.

In this country today, we have serious issues that need to be resolved – health care, national security and recession are but the largest. Unfortunately, partisanship appears to be of greater importance to our Congressional representatives than reaching mutual agreement on solutions. What we need now is a Nelson Mandela, a leader who can bring together the warring factions within the Government and make Government work for, not against, the common interests of all of us. Let’s hope President Obama can wear that mantle in the second year of his presidency.

Oh, by the way, the three other movies I saw and enjoyed – in varying degrees of enjoyment – were 'An Education,' 'It’s Complicated,' and 'Up in the Air.' Meryl Streep (It’s Complicated) is simply the finest actress today.

Patricia W. Chadwick has had more than 35 years of investment experience. She is the founder and president of Ravengate Partners LLC, a consulting firm that provides advice on financial markets and global economics.