The tension between profits, war, and personal ethics is present. I have seen it across my lifetime. The stories are scattered across history. When profits are at risk, rightly or wrongly, defenses kick in. When profits are potentially on the table, personal ethics are pushed to the side. Even when the foundations of a business are inherently selfish, there are examples of aggressive efforts to protect the core. In one case, “when her owners saw that their lucrative little business was suddenly bankrupt, they went after Paul and Silas, roughed them up and dragged them into the market square.” (Acts 16.19) In this context, recent developments are intriguing.
Some students in a leading MBA program recently took an oath. According to reports, “It promises that the Harvard MBA graduates will act responsibly, ethically and refrain from advancing their ‘own narrow ambitions’ at the expense of others”.1 It may have only been a segment of this class, but it is a significant departure from their predecessors.
Politics worldwide reflect a shift to a more socialistic approach to policy and government involvement. At some point, larger communities decided that paying attention to those that are struggling with life should play an important role in public discourse and action. Without comment on the current initiatives, it is a significant departure from the focus of all political parties in the recent past.
Commercial ventures that are green, self-sustaining, and have profit as a secondary focus are gaining attention and publicity. From new stock exchanges, to virtual companies, to fresh solutions to old problems (opportunities), many individuals are embracing a different approach to the future.
The question I find myself wrestling with today centers on the focus of my life. Am I old school or new? Will I look to making the world a better place or take care of number one before all others? Can I trust the premise that I will be “ok” if I see life through the lens of community? The questions are important. Answering them is closely linked to God’s open invitation to each.