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Father Bill Gates
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-01-16 09:55:53
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The European Commission announced two more anti-competition investigations against Microsoft while there are already a couple against the same company going on and some millions the company pays for penalties month after month for the last four years.

The first is the good old Microsoft story with Explorer and if the company unfairly ties its Internet Explorer to its Windows Operating System. The funny thing in this case is that nobody questions the operating system itself that monopolizes all new computer sales, with the only exception being if you demand another operating system. The word 'demand' is right since all computer companies stick with 'Windows' whatever you say.

Whatever the results of this investigation for Microsoft and Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, the result is one and the same. Their profits are much too high to care, even if they have to pay some millions of euros every day - their profits are much, much higher. So here you have got bad-bad guy Bill Gates making more money with an operating system that has so many faults that it makes me often want to throw my computer out of the window - the window literally!

The new Windows Vista is the good all story, to be able to work properly with them you have to invest in a new computer and upgrade most of your programs; something that makes the decision to install them an expensive and serious one, I know I did it! And then after using them a bit you get the familiar blue screen that says that there is something wrong and …you lost everything! That minute you first break the damn thing in small-small pieces and then throw them out of the window, the window literally!

But then I had a similar conversation the other day with Asa on our weekly ‘Ovi Bad Boys show’ and Asa pointed that every time you click the Ctrl+Alt+Del button on your keyboard you might have fed some kids in Africa, since Bill Gates is one of the biggest spenders in the last few years in philanthropist causes and all that in a very modest way, since not many hear about that. Oh feel mercy, don’t tell me now that Bill Gates is Mother Teresa! The man is evil and I hate him!

The subject somehow monopolized the rest of our conversation and it all started from an article published in the New York Times that was talking about that exactly. Mother Teresa earned a sainthood for all the things she did, her good heart and her work among kids in Asia – I’m leaving aside her religious beliefs since what counts in the end is her actions – while the internet is full of sites, in all languages, saying one and only thing: how much they hate Bill Gates.

Still, Bill Gates in just a decade has done more for international hunger than any Mother Teresa would do in a series of lifetimes and not one. What made Mother Teresa be accepted as a saint and Bill Gates as the Devil? And, as I said before, I am one of those who think that the man is evil!

Was it the image of the old woman kneeling over the starving kids with the big belies? But Mother Teresa, while alive, was at the centre of a lot of controversy, people who had worked with her claimed that she was using them and treated them in the worst possible way and there were often left suspicions of racist behaviour.

Or is it the photo of a man, a nerd in tuxedo with a gold watch coming out of a limousine that attracts the envy and doesn’t let you see behind the black limousine? What other reason do we have to hate Bill Gates except that he found a way to do everything we all dreamed off when he was very young? He didn’t do anything wrong and we never heard anything controversial about him, nothing about using people or showing any kind of racist behaviour, on the contrary, the man is a good family man, good husband and excellent father.

Do you think Bill Gates will ever earn a sainthood? I mean after death. Will we ever hear of Father Bill Gates order? I doubt it, but it was a funny thought!

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Rinso2008-01-16 10:51:12
Sainthood is mostly about attitude. It is easy to help others when you're rich and lead a comfortable life. It probable will not interfere with your lifestyle. But it is a completely different thing to devote your life to helping others when you live under miserable conditions yourself.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-16 12:17:05
The above is an apt comment. It is indeed easy for an eminent doctor who rakes in millions every year to perform an operation pro bono once in a while. It is quite different to do what Albert Shewitzer did and go and spent forty years of his life in Africa to help the poor and the sick. Indeed there will quite a few surprises at the final recapitualtion of the sad history of our brave new world.

Talking of fathers and sisters and brothers, and devils and saints, it occurs to me that in the 1936 novel by George Bernano “Diary of a Country Priest,” later made into a movie by Bresson (1951) there is a very interesting conversation between the protagonist (the country priest) and a colleague from another parish where Martin Luther’s angry protest against Catholicism and the Communist ideology and its protest againist greedy capitalism are discussed in the context of the issue of compassion for the poor as exemplified by Christ in the gospel, and the greed and the hypocrisy of the rich and powerful that can be found in most institutions, not excluding the Church's highter hierarchy. At one point of the conversation the country priest has an exceptional insight. I read the novel when in college some forty years ago but I still remember that conversation and the very end of the novel where the country priest dies of stomach cancer all alone exclaiming: “grace is all around.”

The insight is this: when we protest the indifference of the rich and powerful toward the poor and humble, are we doing so our compassion for the poor or out of envy for the rich? The intention makes all the difference. As Searle pointed out: the difference between a robot and a human being who has retained his humanity is intentionality.

Sand2008-01-16 14:38:31
If people in desperate condition get a decent meal and a reasonable place to live and help with their health and other miseries I sincerely doubt they give a damn about the motivation of the donor.

Paparella2008-01-16 15:04:56
"When you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men's admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward."
--Matthew 6:2-3.

Jack2008-01-17 00:16:01
Bill does much to help the disadvantaged. He would receive greater criticisim if he gave little (comparatively). No, he has not devoted his life to the disenfranchised, but who among us has? I don't believe the stomach cares who sent the food and why.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-17 02:06:16
Quite right Jack, not the stomach, but since the ancient Greeks we know that besides a stomach man has a mind and a soul that also need to be fed. The words of Christ to give with the right intention are instructive here: giving and receiving is a two way street and while the receiver may not care where the help comes from, the giver sullies his spiritual integrity with he/she gives with the a bad intention. Bernano as well as St. Francis of Assisi had it on target, it seems to me. There is a world of difference between protesting the indifference of the rich toward the poor because of compassion toward the poor, and to do so because of envy of the rich.

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