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Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Very Moving Moment On Last Night's Episode Of "Shark Tank"

I don't know if you caught the show, but in the last segment they had a guy whose invention was an add-on for trucks.

Until he stepped into the tank the episode was somewhat painful to watch, especially as an arrogant salesman got a dressing down and a magician overvalued his act by millions.

But the last "audition" was so moving it left several of the sharks, and me, in tears.

The man said that his hometown of Sparta, North Carolina had been devastated by the economic downturn in recent years. He took no credit for his idea, just said that God had given it to him. He needed to earn a living, of course, but his bigger goal was to help Sparta and our Nation to rebuild ourselves and grow economically.

[Warning: spoiler ahead.] One by one, each of the sharks tried to convince him to go overseas for manufacturing. He steadfastly refused, giving reason after reason for keeping all the work here at home. It was obvious he had something else in mind beyond the excuses about quality, copycatting, and so on. It was clear he wouldn't be swayed by any argument that staff would be needed to supervise the work overseas.

Seeing that he was inflexible, the sharks said no, one after the other. But Robert Herjavec paused before refusing. He talked about his father, an immigrant who felt so proud and lucky to be here even though people made fun of him all the time.

I'll be honest with you, I thought that Robert and this guy were talking past each other. "Made In The USA" is not an anti-immigrant platform or ideal at all. And people in America are hurting pretty badly as solid manufacturing jobs go offshore where the labor is cheaper.

But in that moment, watching him, I thought of my own father-in-law (may he rest in peace), a brilliant man who also lived a humble life, working in a garment factory. I knew him very well, I lived next door to him for more than two decades, and I was constantly amazed at how a man who had to watch every penny carried himself with so much dignity and ran to give charity to pretty much anyone who asked.

I began to sob, thinking of him and how I miss him so very badly. On the screen I saw Barbara Corcoran, who normally puts on a very tough face, wiping tear after tear from her eyes.

Mark Cuban, Daymond John and Kevin O'Leary looked over at Robert and they didn't say a single word.

I watched all this and I understood how fundamentally humiliating it is for men, in particular, to get up and get their faces punched in as they slave to earn a living. The Biblical curse on Adam was "by the sweat of your brow shall you earn bread" and in the pain on Robert's face, I really felt it.

Work is not just a way that we earn money. It is a basic source of self-esteem. You can say that "everything comes from God," and it does, but we are all human beings and it is easy to feel like a failure, like nothing we do is ever good enough.

It is easy to hate on rich people and assume they are automatically arrogant. But I'm not so sure this is true.

My experience has been that if you take the time to get to know people one at a time, you see that they are much more human than you think.

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All opinions my own.