I stand watching when the air goes out of the place. Word has gotten out. The Godfather is sending Sonny to whip the joint into shape.
Godfather rules supreme over everything. He’s the strongest ever. And the best. He knows his people aren’t perfect. He knows everybody is on the take. But he has one rule: Pick on somebody your own size. A widow stealing some oil; an orphan grabbing some bread; a dying man nicking some wine. He lets that slide.
But if a butcher sold short weight, that was bad. You cheat your workers, that’s bad. You pretend like Godfather isn’t watching, doesn’t care. That proves worst of all.
For this mentality, even his own people call him unreasonable.
That’s a handy word. Rich people, politicians, people with power — they throw it around a lot. A fix for a bad situation costs too much? Goes against what their preachers are preaching? They just don’t like it? Unreasonable.
So Mikey the prophet tried to talk some sense into everybody.
“What, you think it’s a good idea to hate good and love evil? You think it’s OK when the big boys eat the people’s flesh, strip off their skin, and break their bones, then chop them up like meat for the pan, like flesh for the pot?
“You’re telling me you want leaders who despise justice and distort all that’s right? Judges who throw a case for a bribe? Preachers who change what they’re preaching for money? People who change the truth just to stand on the side that’s winning?”
But every time, they said, “Mikey. We love ya buddy. Really we do. But you’re being unreasonable.”
So Mikey brought word straight from the Capo di tutti capi himself:
“Oh my people, what have I ever done to make you tired of me? I bought you out of the house of slavery. Yeah, that was me. And what did I ever ask in return? Burnt offerings? Rivers of oil? Nah. None of that. All I ever asked is that you do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with me, your God, your Father. (Micah 6:1-8)
“I told you how to live the right way, but you didn’t do it. I sent you good people to explain everything. You didn’t listen to them. All right. You’re giving me no choice here. I don’t want to see you destroy one another and everything I’ve been trying to do for you. I’m sending Sonny to take care of this.”
Nobody wants to be here, but here they found themselves. For years, the Godfather’s people had tried laying down the law. But now his actual son was on the way? This was gonna get ugly.
He’s Got a Lot of Nerve
“Hey, I’m Sonny. Howya doin?”
He starts talking, but everybody’s heard it before. The law. The prophets. Old news. He goes through the whole lasagna ― justice, equity, humility, kindness. Badda-beep, badda-bap, badda-boop.
Then someone says, “This is the way you deal with people giving each other the shaft? This is the way you deal with liars and cheats? This is what you do to people who spit on your ways and kill your people? Sonny! You’re not being reasonable! You really think any of this stuff is going to make a difference?” (Matthew 5:1-12)
Sonny says, “Well, maybe not. But it’s what Pop sent me to do.”
Then somebody with a nerve laid it right out there:
“Sonny, your pop’s a fool. And so are you.”
Now, there’s a way to say things in this business. You can pretty much get away with anything if you say, “I don’t mean no disrespect,” or, “I don’t mean this in a bad way … ” So it’s one thing to beat around saying Sonny’s unreasonable. That’s code for a fool, and everybody’s OK with that. But to come right out and say it?
What Family Means
Not long after, Sonny was dead. Could have been anybody. Everybody had a beef with Sonny and his foolishness. Never found the body.
Paulie worked as the family consigliere. He pleaded their case any chance he got.
“Yeah. Sonny was a fool. So’s his old man. But he sent the smart guys and nobody listened to them. He sent the tough guys and nobody obeyed. Nobody ever listens. So what’s he got to lose being a fool?”
Paulie tried getting my attention for years, telling me, “Listen. Buddy. Think about what you’re doing here. Are we smart? Are we rich? Are we from good families? Nah. You and me, we ain’t nothing to brag about, but … ” He pounded his heart with his fist. Paulie belonged. For him, the Godfather’s family meant more than life itself. And he wanted me to belong, too.
For Sonny and Pop
So now I belong. Was it a smart move? Was it a power move? I dunno. I just know Paulie was right. Even when you’re the newest of the new, the lowest of the low like me ― when you’re family, you’re family.
I take care of Godfather’s foolishness like it’s my own. His weakness? Stronger than me on the best day I ever had. My favorite jobs are the base, despised things. I get a lot of weird looks, but hey. It ain’t about me. It ain’t about nobody else, either. (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)
Funny thing is, no matter how good I think I’m doing taking care of Pop’s foolishness and weakness and base, despised things, there’s always about a million tons of foolishness and weakness and base, despised things left over.
Paulie had a special word for all that stuff ― the world. And the world is where Sonny and Pop send me to do their business.