God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. - Genesis 1:3-5
The essence of business is honesty. Meaning three things:
- The conceptual ability to distinguish "valuable" from "valueless."
- The concrete ability to execute on this and earn money.
- The moral conscience to earn in a way that ultimately benefits people.
(Note: You can have business sense but no conscience, but if that is the case you're ultimately going to be blinded by greed and your business decisions will be bad, because biased.)
Not everyone has business sense, but U2's Bono does. The band's "360°" tour was the highest grossing concert series of all time, with gross earnings of $736,421,584 (Wikipedia; event photo by Luka Krstulović).
When he isn't singing, Bono spends his time helping the poor, another reflection of his capacity to separate worthwhile time investments from bogus ones.
A couple of days ago, while in recovery from a terrible accident, he issued "Little Book Of A Big Year. It's a funny and important reflection on 2014 that says this:
Capitalism is not immoral, but it is amoral. It gets its instructions from us. It's an indiscriminate engine, and our obligation is to see that it provides forward movement to everyone, not just to those whose hands are on the levers.
What an important statement to make. One that reflects a kind of Divine perspective on money - that is only as good or as bad as we human beings make it.
Bono's One organization, aimed at fighting extreme poverty and other social ills in Africa, has more than 6 million members now. It is funded, basically, by rich people - you and I cannot donate.
In the currency-less and weapon-free future toward which we are all headed, money itself will cease to have meaning.
But we will remember those who, in these dark and unenlightened times, had all the cash in the world. We will reflect on the many who chose traffic in sex, drugs, and guns; who used corrupt means to exploit those "who don't matter" and to make themselves even richer.
We will isolate such people from humanity forever, and turn instead to follow the light of the true and honest business leaders.
All opinions my own. Photo by Mayhem Chaos via Flickr.