Always do right. It will gratify some and astonish the others.” Mark Twain
There’s something soothing about this statement from Mark Twain. It’s as if what is right or wrong is clearly defined and you and I, his readers, know the difference. Hence, some are gratified (those who also always do right) while others are astonished for knowing what is right, they choose to do something else (or they are astonished that you are choosing to do what is right)!
“What’s ‘right’ is up for grabs.”
“It’s not so clear anymore” some say. “If it’s right for you great, but don’t lay your definition of right on me – I have different priorities and values and they are just as right as yours!” It’s like a mantra sometimes.
Today, May 1, 2012, we have going on right now in downtown Seattle, something that I think is clearly wrong. The Occupy Wall Street folks – at least that’s the biggest banner floating, are marching through Seattle. Nothing wrong with that – they got the permits and the permission to march. However, for some, they apparently think they also have the right to destroy property, (and not just business but personal property as well), and to accost / attack citizens who are not participating in the march. Hopefully it will end before turning into something more violent tonight when under the cover of darkness malevolent people seek to do more damage.
How did we as a people lose sight of what is right and wrong?
When did destruction of private property, or business property become OK?
Why is it OK to attack someone who doesn’t agree with you, but isn’t obstructing your right to voice your opinion?
What about us business owners? What is right for us?
Will a small business stay in business if the owner has no clear understanding of what is right? We build our businesses on TRUST. I trust you to do what you say you will do, to provide the quality of product and services at the prices you have quoted. You TRUST me to do the same. If that doesn’t happen, we have recourse without the violence. We have either the court system or social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp which can make poor business practices known faster than the blink of an eye. It seems like we, the small business owners, know the difference between right and wrong. Maybe that’s part of what makes the business class so important?
There’s an old proverb that goes something like this: “Make me rich enough that I am not tempted to steal and poor enough to remember to be truly grateful”. IWish I could remember the source.
What do you think? In business are there absolutes? Or is right and wrong defined by what economic or intellectual culture you came from?
If you have an opinion, I’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, I hope you aren’t trapped in downtown Seattle!