As I was walking my dog today, I was thinking of what I would say. thought of the famous line from that movie: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.” (Network) [This is a rather complicated allusion, so apologies to those expecting a simple one.]
So, if we are free, we have to also acknowledge our duty, and responsibility. This is an ancient concept in all cultures. Freedom to be completely irresponsible is not a thing any civilized person wants.
At the personal level, responsibility means we first must take care of ourselves, without violating the freedom of others, and then take care of our immediate families and friends.
Perhaps in this season and in my culture, influenced by Christ, I may say responsibility joyfully also includes: It is more blessed to give than to receive. Broadly, as it was phrased, to give to our neighbors — those we know but to whom we have no real connection.
In day-to-day business this may seem a paradox. For me, for most of my life, this seemed hard. I should give more than I get, but it does not say that. To me it says: By focusing on the giving, you actually receive more. Not unlike when Peter Drucker said, “The purpose of the firm is to serve the customers.”
Receive more of what? Ah, yes, more valuable things. Let me leave it at that. No doubt in some way you have experienced this.
Business is a wonderful transaction, where each side gives less than they get. One side pays less than the object is worth to them, and the other side gives up, to them, a less valuable object (or service) for the object (or money) they need more. It is wonderful magic. The magic of freedom, and free enterprise.
So, what am I mad about? I look about me and see, plainly, so much imperfection. So much want. So much need. So many tears. So many who deny large parts of their humanity. As though life or the world is so dreadful, they must hole themselves up inside a ‘resource’ box that is barely more than a thinking machine that drinks coffee. They willingly give up large parts of their humanity. I, too, have done this. We are so much more than we have become.
The world and we in it can become a lot better.
So, if you are a little bit free, if you have a bit more material wealth or perhaps greater wealth, confidence — that in life (as in death) all will be well if we stride confidently toward our dreams — then you have the responsibility to give that to others.
Make them more free. Make them more confident that they can make their lives better, and they can, too, for others. Not abstractly, but one moist, shaking, imperfect, animalistic, feeling, breath-inspiring, mistake-making, cocky, incompletely understanding child of God at a time. Make ready one person waiting to shine as this paragon of animals, which is a man. This is where the real value is.
Now, I am not against money and business. Far from that. I believe in money, as one of the more useful illusions of man. Money and business were made to serve man, not man to serve them. I am speaking now of the music that plays beneath all the MBA stuff you may have learned.
You have the responsibility, as you well know, to serve a higher purpose.
No one should request an unreasonable sacrifice, which would most likely be only an ego-trip. No, within the real humility of one’s real self and station, neither too high nor too low, one can do a bit more, and without much difficulty at all. If you put yourself in the flow of truth and the way. Easily. Stand upon the truth, and act in concert with your friends and colleagues. The world cannot resist you. Fearsome as it may seem sometimes, it cannot resist you. We have so many examples, do you need to hear them again? I will mention one, overwhelming to me, the falling of the Iron Curtain in 1989.
This is our responsibility — to act slightly more greatly than we have till this day. Recognize that even our enemies are our friends. Fight them if we must, but fight them as a way of saying they are worthy of our fight. Perhaps in the fight they will learn, or perhaps we will learn. So be it.