Business and Its Social Responsibility

Manila Bulletin, September 12, 2011 | Go to article overview

Business and Its Social Responsibility


MANILA, Philippines - These days, it seems that the trend is to dichotomize the secular and what pertains to one's consciential convictions, or as the world would call it, religion.

And so, religious convictions are not supposed to impinge on secular matters such as government, business, and media. If ever, one has to "disguise" one's convictions in euphemistic and "politically correct" terminology, so as to be acceptable to the general public.

And so, when writing or speaking, one must be politically correct and only discuss economic strategies and growth, profitability, risk taking, good governance and social responsibility. It is incorrect to discuss right and wrong in the context of morality, but one can talk about these in the context of what is legal and acceptable.

There is "no need" to discuss of what the Bible says about subduing the earth and having dominion over it in the context of moral responsibility over God's gifts but it is acceptable to talk about the environment and social responsibility on the part of business.

But I will stick my neck out, and bring to our attention last Sunday's gospel, where Jesus Christ explicitly said, "...what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?" And I will repeat what then Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) observed, "for a long time...business ethics rang like hollow metal because the economy was held to work on efficiency and not on morality..." It must be stressed that business and economics cannot determine whether any activity is ethical or not.

The technical revolution that has made possible modern market products as internet stock valuations, derivatives, hot money transfers, online shopping, even gaming and pornography not to mention credit abuse that inveigled people to buy homes and other consumer products they could not possibly afford on their incomes brings us to the conclusion that a consumeristic society that is the result of the science of production, distribution, and consumption of wealth (i.e., the fulfillment of wants) cannot be the be-all and end-all of a human being, a person whose destiny goes beyond worldly affairs.

Prophetic indeed were the words of Cardinal Ratzinger more than twenty years ago: "It is becoming an increasingly obvious fact of economic history that the development of economic systems which concentrate on the common good depends on a determinate ethical system, which in turn can be borne and sustained only by strong religious convictions. …

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