I have never really been much of a holiday person. Over the last 26 years, however, I have evolved into somewhat of a Scrooge. I intend to change that. This morning I woke up thinking about my birthday party with the kids. I like to take as many of the kids out as I can for dinner and celebrate my birthday. I love my family, but I feel it is a bit fractured. I have one daughter that won’t talk to me, another that has very little to do with me, and the three that were with me yesterday are wonderful, but I constantly worry about them.
As a maturing parent, getting old, I look back at the many mistakes I made as a parent and wonder what could I have done differently? So when I woke up yesterday morning I was thinking about redemption, and how could God redeem the fractured mess I feel I have created. I believe redemption is possible, but it is a redemption that is beyond me. However, I have to ask myself a question, what is my responsibility in this mess? I have come to the conclusion that it is to love and care for those that are a part of my family, no matter what. Now how do I apply this thought process to Redemptive Capitalism?
Obviously the first place to start is with the definition of redemption? I pulled out my Unger’s Bible Dictionary and looked up the word. The dictionary describes how Jehovah instructed the Israelites that they were a people purchased from bondage. Redeemed if you will from Egyptian enslavement, and transferred to the promised land of Canaan. The larger idea, as stated by Unger, is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross as a payment of redemption for the sin of mankind, setting us free from sin and transferred into a new life with Him.
How in the world can Capitalism and redemption be used in the same sentence? The two key elements of redemption are intervention and promise. Jeff Swartz, CEO of Timberland, states, “The late Milton Freidman, who won the Nobel Prize says the sole responsibility of business is to earn money for shareholders, but when one child in five goes to bed hungry, I find that intolerable.” An intervention therefore is required. Timberland, like many modern companies, has a motto, “Do Well and Do Good – and they’re not mutually exclusive.” Timberland is not the only company that intervenes in the social concerns of our society.
This leads us to the second element of Redemptive Capitalism, promise. Capitalism entails private ownership of the means of production to create profit. However, there are many examples of exploitation throughout its history. However, many companies are now on a quest for “integrity, transparency, and enlightened governance,” leading to a higher social and environmental standard, while maintaining profit. The triple bottom line of sustainability is widely pursued by large and small companies alike, and is being used to create the promise of a social responsible business that partners with society for improved living conditions.
I am a huge Social Entrepreneurship fan. As a Christian I believe in using business to further the kingdom of God. Strong Harvest is a not-for-profit organization that is using the Maringa Tree to create clean water, nutritious food, and economic opportunity for people in tropical areas that are usually low income areas. Rick and Jeri Kremmer are using the principles of the gospel to make the world a better place.
Although some are calling this Conscious Capitalism, I will not hide the Christ element. To me we are using business to create an intervention, which helps people improve their life. Not just economically, but socially, and environmentally.
Why do I think the principles of Capitalism are better for this endeavor than Socialism? Milton Freidman said it best in his book Capitalism and Freedom, “The great advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science or literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government. Columbus did not set out to seek a new route to China in response to a majority directive of parliament . . . Newton and Leibnitz, Einstein and Bohr; Shakespeare, Milton, and Pasternak; Whitney, McCormick, Edison, and Ford; Jane Adams, Florence Nightengale, and Albert Schweitzer; not one of these opened up new frontiers in human knowledge and understanding, in literature, in technical possibilities, or in the relief of human misery in response to government directives. They were the product of individual genius . . . Government can never duplicate the variety and diversity of individual action.”
Individual innovation, which is encouraged via free market Capitalism, can help us intervene and create new solutions to human misery. I am excited about the possibilities.
And that is my thought for the day!