Even if we are doing it, we did not stop to think about it. We accepted it as a learnt tradition. Maybe we can pause and ask what a business is (entrepreneurial venture) and what is asked of us as we do our business.
The most common answer to the definition of business in modernity is providing solutions to customers for profit. There are 2 important objectives here: solve problems and gain profit. Nothing wrong with this, in fact, innovative companies have given us comfort, created wealth and uplifted lives for centuries now. Because of them we have cars, computers, phones, and medical equipment that helped saved lives to name a few. So thanks to Science.
However, some companies and capitalists that have inspired to solve society’s problems have also become the very source of human rights concerns and other social problems.
I want to share another definition of business, one that is kinder to environment and labor. It can be found in Pope Francis’ Fratelli Tutti:
What makes the definition different from that of the first I gave is the addition of the word noble on top of wealth production and development. This is important because this is how business is to be seen, as a noble venture. A noble venture is something that genuinely promotes something good in its goods. Nobility is something unfashionable in the world today but such virtue is universal and is never out of style. Saying nobility is out of style is like saying good is no longer relevant in today’s world. On the contrary, we need more good today. The simple addition of nobility can create a big change.
Business is also something that helps us develop our talents. In developing ourselves, in producing goods and creating profit, technology is utilized and not us being subordinates to machines. An example of technology controlling man would be that of the algorithm of social sites. Instead of us creating something original, we tend to adjust to what is needed by the algorithm so that we achieve the standards they have put; standards like likes, and views. This won’t be the case unless the person understands how the algorithm works and finds a way to go around it. But as soon as the site learns that the algorithm has been beaten, it will be changed to a different one. What happens then is an endless battle between man and machine.
We are also reminded that our business abilities are God given, that it is to be used to uplift lives of people in poverty by providing job opportunities. The goal to uplift other goes beyond corporate social responsibility for publicity but it calls to make good truly part of the company’s core values. Another reminder is the one about ownership and private property; it is a reminder that “God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favoring anyone”.
I end it here. Business may also be seen from a different light, one that is kinder and considerate to environment, ourselves and others yet doesn’t sacrifice profit. In the end, if done in this manner, business becomes a genuinely noble endeavor.