Three Rules for the Righteous Tycoon
Commerce without charity is unchristian. Commerce without ethics is un-American. Commerce without art is undignified. As we move into a distinctively-new era, we have to accept some unpleasant realities. The ground we stand upon at the outset is unsteady. It’s more a choppy sea, a throbbing tremor we think is about to end and then doesn’t. We have to get used to that feeling. We have to find our true selves buried beneath the fog of panic in these strange surroundings and focus on doing good whenever possible. We’re responsible for each other in every sense. My very presence impacts your life, as yours does mine. If we accept this one fact, then those of us who are soon to be left in the United States are going to notice improved prospects overall. But some will remain victims — victims of fate, of family, and of their own poor choices. We have to account for them. We are accountable. We start with others, so when we later enjoy our bounty there isn’t any doubt we served humanity in some way, because commerce without charity is unchristian.
Financial success comes easily to some. For them, there is no market condition or economic tsunami that prevents monetary gain. Those players are liable over time to equate commerce with a game. Mathematics provides the theory and the scoring, and the players usually win. But there is more to the losing than a game. It is important to win, but how important? Important enough to cheat? Remember, we are responsible for each other. Not everyone should get a trophy, but they should come away with something other than third-degree burns. Every deal will have a winner, but the loser should not have to surrender unconditionally. That is not how we want to do business with each other. We need to live by a code of conduct, of ethical behavior, so the wealth we acquire does not come attached to a curse. In the end we are alone, so we must be able to live with ourselves. We must be able to look in the mirror and not appear a disappointment to our own judgment. As much as we judge others, we ourselves must try to be better people. There is no chance for improvement without an audit. We must balance the ethical books, because commerce without ethics is un-American.
An artist is the soul’s prophet, the art its prophesy. We owe to ourselves the glory of the message contained in the works of mankind. We owe to ourselves the pleasure of sharing our own visions with others. It is our contribution to the state of the place when we share our art, when we give of ourselves, when we share the works of others. There is no price too high to make our surroundings wondrous, and it doesn’t cost much more if we always start with beauty in mind. We are lovers at heart and our art is how we express love. It doesn’t have to be uniformly beautiful; it can be irrationally so. It is not the form defining what is or isn’t art. It is not necessary for art to be universally decipherable. If you don’t get it, someone else might. The message sounds different to every ear, but it makes sounds just the same. If you listen long enough, the message will inhabit you. It will teach you. Art is God, speaking through us. You can never have enough God, right? We are obligated to spread His word, even if the word is unintelligible. It should be the object of every viable business firm to consciously contribute to the beauty of the world, because commerce without art is undignified.
No magical spell will turn this world into Eden. There is no reason we should allow it to turn into Hell. We are all responsible for what happens, through action or apathy. It is always better to act and, better still, to act with a generous spirit. We are a species of traders, which makes us overly conscious of the weight of our purses. Greed is a reflex, a defense mechanism. We will all profit in the coming years if only we remember to subdue reflex and rechannel the energy toward a greater good. Utopia is meant to always be out of reach, but the stretching itself is healthful. When we’re healthy, we’re happy. When we’re happy, we’re productive. And when we’re productive, we are fulfilled. And that feeling, spread across an entire planet, is good for business.