The humanity of the human beings involved in the BGCT goings on occassionally dismayed me. The events lost their ability to shock.
I advanced from naif to sentimentalist during my time with the convention. I became accutely aware of my life-long fear of failure. A naive person is comfortably un-selfconscious, authentic in an uninspected way. A sentimentalist is more aware of his own spiritual nudity; visibly vulnerable to visiting vitriol.
I let people evaluate the conference, the promotion, the "performance" of the participants. Axes were ground, hatchets were dug out, agendas exposed. The national convention’s problems infected us with an antibiotic resistant strain of self-righteousness, of self-empowering, malicious humanity. We clearly knew God was male, most probably Anglo, certainly Republican and a fancier of noblesse oblige. You could clearly see the struggle if you knew how to read.
The night after the TEC I wanted to throw myself out my 11th floor hotel window. I would have a similar feeling each year after the TEC. If I ever attend another I will stay on the first floor and leave during daylight hours.
Life is so certainly full of choices. Every choice precurses tragedy or triumph; most often come both from the same choice. Our fellow in charge at that time is much derided for his inability to make decisions or to make sensible, consistent choices one could then turn into a manageable system but to dismiss him that easily is superficial.
I have a different perspective. As I look back on my five years of close association with Charles, I recall a man prone to make decisions. He is a naif who never lost his naivette. He would ultimately explain his greatest management failures by appeal to his "pastor’s heart." He "wanted to believe everyone" and so "was misled."
Left unexplained are the appeals of persons who spoke the truth to him but were ignored and often castigated. My perspective from afar is simply that Charles made decisions based on feelings. He consistently, sincerely, felt the pain or the hope of the person in front of him. He wanted his interlocutor to "thrive, not just survive." All of his decisions, each of the daily dozens he made, undid, retook, must be understood in that light. He desperately needed the affirmation/approval of the person(s) most on his mind at the moment.
I have said before Charles looks for approval the way Homer Simpson looks for a Krispy Kreme truck. He will pursue and devour.
No one should express surprise that fellows from the Valley (against whom Charles later filed criminal charges) could deceive him. A dog recognizes a wolf; that is why you put a dog with the sheep.
No jaw should drop when you hear Charles allowed staff to mislead him. Charles does not understand deliberate lying. He only misleads people to avoid confrontation. Only after one is completely minimalized does it dawn on you the depth of his deceit. By then, it is too late and, besides, you should have seen the curtain start to fall. It is your fault, not his.
A leader is tragic or triumphant, perhaps both if he/she lives long enough and rules. Powers beyond his/her control may turn tragic decisions to triumph. Lincoln looked for what Napoleon said was the best attribute of a general; luck. Napoleon thought Ney was a lucky general. Lincoln found his luck in Grant, the first of his generals who truly understood "the terrible math" of Northern numerical superiority.
Charles never found his "luck."
My worst worry for Charles was that, someday, he would find himself sitting in his much loved fourth floor corner office, alone, looking out the window, wondering where all his friends were gone. He would not burn out or rust. He would finally, sadly, have the logical end of his actions, the essence of tragedy, wherein choices made early and often finally come to call. For Charles his tragedy was that he retained the personal affection of many people he had wronged directly or indirectly, who would not associate with him professionally any longer, and that he thought affection would be enough.
I wept real tears when I thought of that sad scene. As long as I could, I tried to save him from himself.