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The Reckoning · Season 1

The Reckoning: Lesson One

In this lesson, you’ll learn:

  • What is at stake if we continue on the current trajectory of economics?
  • What sources you will be learning from during this series
  • 5 cultural and economic currents you need to pay attention to

Read the Transcript

Hello, and welcome to our new educational series called, The Reckoning.  I recently did a pod cast where the host ended the conversation with the question, “So what’s at stake here?  Why is it important that what you just shared is something to which Christian business leaders should pay attention?”

 

Well, rather than end there, I’m going to start with that question, “What’s at stake here?”  What will be shared in the eight sessions of this series may well preserve our freedom and liberty in America for centuries to come. The stakes are that high, you ask?  Yes. Contrarily, ignorance of these lessons will continue to yield infringements on our liberties as American citizens and could end the almost 250-year American Experiment as coined by Alexis de Tocqueville.  Hyperbole?  I don’t think so.

 

A reckoning is coming.  In its archaic definition, reckoning meant a settlement of an account (without the inference of something bad or sinister). More commonly, though, a reckoning is a time when the consequences of a course of mistakes or misdeeds are felt. The reckoning I’d like to address here, is the settlement of a significant battle for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. And one of the primary battlefields, if not the primary battlefield, will be and is in business.

 

I also believe there is a governing dynamic at play here that foretells of the coming reckoning. It needs to be exposed, understood, and addressed by only those who can impact the outcome: Catholic and Christian business leaders.

 

I’ll provide numerous sources from which to consider this reckoning. These will include minds and writings from classical and modern economics, moral philosophy, progressive management, and leadership experts.

 

It’s amazing the breadth of speakers from whom we take our cues as business leaders, isn’t it?!  I’m sure you have your own list of sages from whom you gain wisdom.  These might include Peter Drucker, Stephen Covey, Tom Peters and Michael Hammer (I’m dating myself!), Simon Sinek, Patrick Lencioni, and from many others, including teachings of the Catholic Church. Wait, what did he just say?!  That’s right, I said business, economic, and leadership teachings and wisdom from the Catholic Church.

 

I’ve been a senior executive in the marketplace for over three decades in companies ranging from $10-$200 million in annual sales revenue, in both product and service industries, including President/CEO of three of these. I’ve written four books on faith and leadership and teach at Benedictine College, one of America’s best Catholic colleges, committed to educating men and women in a community of faith and scholarship.  This last year, Benedictine College committed its next 30 years to transforming the culture of America.  What we do in business could likely be the point of this spear and the tipping point of this transformation.  I’ll justify this position as we continue in this series.

 

Nowhere have I found more relevant and meaningful teaching on business and economics than from the Catholic church. Why not know what the Church teaches, giving it at least equal consideration to others’ teaching? I’ll tell you now, ignoring Church teaching in these matters will fulfill a prophesy none of us want to see, or much less, to sentence future generations of Americans to.  Just over the horizon, there is a reckoning coming.

 

If you want to debate the findings in this series, I’m more than happy to listen and respond, but you might need to take your issues up with the Roman Catholic church in Vatican City.  It’s the Church’s teaching on which I base these commentaries and my conclusions.

 

To begin, let’s get our feet planted squarely in the reality of America’s and American business’ current state of affairs.  Let’s examine the reality and society in which we live, work and lead businesses today. While we could each produce our own list of cultural and economic issues that tweak the nerves of our sensibilities, these are the ones I hear coming frequently from the cultural megaphones today. As a fiscal and social conservative, I share these not because they are my core beliefs, but because they are the reality of many born of perception and experience.  My respect and concern for others trumps any desire to blindly bias these sessions toward my own personal persuasions and values.

 

#1 Objective truth has been substituted for truth of one’s own making.  Relativism has crowded out anyone claiming objective truth as their basis for decisions; relegating them to the status of a fossil, at best, and to pariah at worst.  The perception of the Christian church as a whole and its waning relevance in society today is enough evidence of this substitution – we live in a post-truth world.

 

#2 There is a widening gap between the have’s and the have-nots (regardless of one’s concern for why). The legacy of red-lined urban communities, the isolation and ignorance of indigenous Americans, the inequitable resource distribution to poor communities including educational resources and talent, the disproportionate pain experienced by people of color during times of inflation and runaway gas prices (much less a pandemic), a pervasive lack of real estate ownership by people of color, and the escalating rents evidencing gentrification are among the many contributors to this gap.

 

#3 These pervasive and growing inequities yield a concern for and focus on social justice. The protests and energy spent in response to this gap are significant, not for want to bring about improved societal and financial security and stability, but lacking real and tangible options for doing so.

 

#4 The centrifugal force of this dissent and dissatisfaction has given rise to the social democratic political movement, including a variety of “New Deal” proposals purporting to be a solution to social injustice.

 

#5 And while this force bellows its cry for justice, the domain of business is viewed by many as a contributor to the problem of social injustice.  Record corporate profits, stock market indices reaching almost daily records, astronomical executive compensation on the heels of those rising stock prices, inequity in business enterprise pay structures that favor white males, significant investments in efforts to lobby US lawmakers to lighten restrictions on environmental emissions or mining are some examples of the lenses through which many people view business.  Business is considered by many as antithetical to the real pursuit of social justice.

 

It is to this business leader fraternity that we belong, like it or not. It’s our reality. And the problems swirling in our world around us as business leaders are just as real.  The gap widens, the force grows, the political movement strengthens, relative truth taints our perspective, and business is left in a vacuum; to continue its perceived unethical pursuit of maximizing profits at the expense of those within our employ and our communities.  Business is likened to a wealthy landowner, isolated and protected, from the hordes of people suffering under the policies endorsed by those same people who hold the power.

 

If this perception of business bothers you as a business leader, as it does me, I’ve got good news for you.  Contrary to this prevailing perspective, business is intended to be and IS a significant part of the solution to social injustice.  But to realize that intention, we must also realize a governing dynamic at play here: the level of government intervention is inversely proportional to the level of virtue practiced in business.  We can bemoan the growing force and the strengthening social-democratic political movement all we want, but until we acknowledge business’ and business leaders’ responsibility to practice virtue in and through their business, the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness promised for all in America is at stake.  This governing dynamic foretells of the coming reckoning.

 

Join us for the Session II in this series of The Reckoning as we explore the cause and effect of the rise of modern-day socialist ideologies in America.  I promise you, we will get to answers and solutions by the end of this series that, hopefully, will compel you to carry forward the flag of freedom in America with truth as its mast.  You play a heroic role in this work as a business leader.  Until then, blessings as you pursue that which is higher still, in and through your business.