Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tough Choices

‘24’ is a seven-year-long television series about an anti-hero, Jack Bauer (played by real-life, testosterone, alpha-male, Keiffer Sutherland). He used to head the now defunct, de-listed, Counter-Terrorist Unit or CTU. In other words, over-worked, under-paid civil servants who lead secret lives about what they do (and may be eager to do it all over again, given the secret handshake).

In each episode (beginning at 8.00am), which lasts one hour (‘real time’) per episode, we witness the multitude of news-making, events that lead up to the last hour of the day. Essentially, the premise of this series is a doomsday plot that has subversives intending to overthrow a leadership, or destroy public property, or harm lives. Not very optimistic scenarios – definitely controversial, and leverages on our current fears and conspiracy theories.

I am almost done with Season 7, and am now at 12am-1.00pm. Another surprise has sprung. I have, once again, been thrown off-guard! The question on our mind is: Will Jack save the day? (After six seminal seasons, we are now on a first-name basis). Can the day get any worst? Apparently, it can. Murphy’s Law has been upgraded to Vista proportions!

Jack Bauer, once a hero is now a rogue agent has the choice to leave his past behind (and keep running). However, he seems drawn to tough choices that connect his sense of humanity with ‘doing the right thing’. His personal values attract him to these life-threatening situations that coaxes the viewer to ask: ‘Why me?’ Such is the schedule of the supra-hero who destiny is to save the world. Oh, by the way, his sense of rescuing the world has led him to making painful sacrifices (physically and emotionally). There is a price to pay for the choices he makes. Either’s Bauer’s karma is to continue to save the world until his expiration date, or we wonder – hey, this guy has bad timing when it comes to his timetable! To add insult to injury, according to one bad character on one season: ‘Why is it that people around you tend to die?’

The character, Lieutenant John McClane on the Die Hard franchise, has a similar stroke of karmic disarray. He tends, too, to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. His consolation is: ‘Someone has to do it!’ Either these anti-heroes are too competent, they can get ‘down and dirty’, or they need to get a personal assistant.

Isn’t it ironical that, sometimes, the choices we make are based on those we care for? Aren’t choices easier to make when these pertain to us? Isn’t being selfish easier than being considerate and generous? There are truly some very hard decisions to make in life.

Leadership Lessons: What are the tough choices that you make? How do you handle tough choices?

1 comment:

Matty Wong said...

I find it difficult to believe that in a 24 hrs cycle, one has to go thru explosion, being shot at, 2 heart stoppages and at the same time make tonnes of decision based on skirmishes information...

But again, thats my kinda hero, those who saves the day and the world.