Business is the glue that holds our communities together.
Whatever your political persuasion, your race, your gender, demographic or income level, you must—on a daily basis—transact with those who offer goods to you for survival and pleasure in exchange for your money. That’s business.
Think about it and be honest: Is it possible you might know the names of those with whom you regularly shop and not those of people in your very own neighborhood? It’s certainly true in my case. Have you ever gone days without seeing or talking to a neighbor or family member yet have regular conversations with the teller at the bank or a grocery store clerk? You’re not alone.
Far from being a condemnation, though, I believe that’s simply just the way life has evolved. That business plays such a major role in our lives should not be seen as a negative, though many sociologists and cultural critics might interpret it as such. The reality is that we all are, for better or for worse, a consumption-driven society and this necessarily dictates that the majority of our social relations will be with those we spend money with.
You would think, then, that portrayals and representations of business in our culture would be more positive or at least neutral. With a few exceptions, you’d be wrong.
Even though business plays such an enormous role in our daily lives it’s a challenge to find many praiseworthy instances of positive workforce role models today. You never see the evil teacher, postal worker or athlete protagonist coming out of Hollywood—it’s always the greedy and nefarious businessman. “Undercover Boss,” the popular CBS “reality” television show, ends up with a happy ending for the CEO but only after endless mea culpas, eye-opening revelations and many tears shed over just how poorly the workers are treated or how hard they struggle.
Most of the business networks on cable, meanwhile, are filled with 24-hour minutiae, bewildering stock market graphs and talking head debates but very little in the way of inspiring or Main Street marketplace news and information.
Yes, there are bad business leaders and bad businesses—as in any walk of life. The overwhelming majority of businesses, however, consist of people a lot like you and me, doing the best they can, trying to make a profit while providing what you want and need in a satisfactory manner.
Whether you’re a flaming liberal or a tight-collared conservative, you depend on business every single day. I think it’s a beautiful thing when people of varied and often conflicting life perspectives can peacefully come together millions of times a day just through exchanging currency for goods. I also think that there are so many great stories of hardworking people—in the trenches and in the boardrooms equally—who deserve our attention, our respect—our praise—for helping enrich our lives by doing what they do for their living…and for ours.
More so than our schools, our churches, even our government, it is business—unarguably, I believe—that is the cohesive glue holding us all together. Think about that today when you fill up your car or buy a cup of coffee. And be thankful.
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