“Take out a dollar bill and look at it. Now pat yourself on your back because you are looking at a certificate of performance. If you did not rob or steal from anyone to obtain that dollar, if you neither defrauded anyone nor persuaded your government to seize it from a fellow citizen and give it to you, then you could only have obtained that dollar in one other way—you must have pleased someone else.”
The setting is an elementary school classroom. The teacher asks the children what they want to be when they grow up. The first to answer, a little girl named Suzie, says ‘I want to be a nurse.’ – the class nods and smiles as if to approve her choice. ‘What a nice little girl,’ the teacher thinks. The second to answer, a little boy named Tommy, jumps up and shouts as if he can not hold it in any longer, “I want to be a fireman!” – the class thinks “good for him”. And then there is the third child to answer. Little Billy, feeling a sort of lumming pressure of an anticipated pending response timidly proclaims, “I want to be a businessman.” The class is taken back, aghast. What evil is this child conjuring?
Ok, perhaps, just maybe… I went a little too far. Yet still the point I am trying to make, through the subtle art of exaggeration, is that I have come to believe and perhaps most will admit, that more would question little Billy’s morals than little Suzie’s or Tommy’s. Why is that?
In Thou Shall Prosper, Rabbi Daniel Lapin draws from accumulated Jewish learnings to lay out his Ten Commandments for Making Money. Rabbi Lapin believes the first and most important commandment is to believe in the dignity and morality of business. His point: if you believe business is evil, you will have a hard time acquiring money.
Thinking about the classroom scene above and how subtlly the immorality of money and business is woven into our world – I wonder if it is worth considering why more of our youngsters do not aspire to go into business? How come business is not viewed as a means to serve others? To earn certificates of performance? How come each dollar is not viewed as a testament of our ability to please others and make their lives better?
A takeaway from Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin
What are your thoughts on the dignity and morality of business?
As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject would be the coolest.