“You were a good man of business, Jacob Marley . . .” Scrooge exclaimed in a ghostly encounter with his late business partner who had emerged from hell weighed down in chains to warn Scrooge of his own impending fate. “Mankind should be our business, Ebenezer,” Marley interrupted before Scrooge could finish, “but we seldom attend to it!”
Considering how in recent times greed was the culprit that toppled many of the major financial institutions around the world costing hundreds of thousands of jobs, the ripple effects of which are still being felt, it would seem that society has learned little since Dickens published his popular novella, A Christmas Carol, back in 1843. Scrooge types seem to dwell among us today as much as they did then, only nowadays most are powerful executives found inside huge institutions that employ thousands of people – honest, hard-working people with real lives contending with real life issues, much like Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s unappreciated near-impoverished clerk. And notwithstanding the recent financial collapse some still might say of these executives, “you are a good man of business” when as we all know “mankind should be their business”.
Fortunately, though, and of much greater significance are those living among us in our neighborhoods and communities whose business is mankind, unsung heroes like the ER nurse and her husband I read about recently who after caring for a young man injured in an automobile accident, a total stranger, took it upon themselves to drive him hundreds of miles so he could be with his family for the holidays. There are countless others who responded to 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, and many lesser known crises – all people whose business is mankind.
The greedy will always be among us I suppose, the desire for wealth and power being one of the great human frailties. Some will even be praised as “good men of business.” But “mankind should be our business”. It is, after all, the only business that really matters.