Ethics in Business: Faith at Work

By James M. Childs Jr. | Go to book overview

2

FROM BEING A NOBODY
TO BEING A SOMEBODY

In one of his recent columns, journalist and humorist Andy Rooney reflected on his experience attending the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. Although it was a pleasant evening and the honorees were likeable and deserving, Rooney lamented that such events are another instance of how our society is enamored with the highly visible and famous. We seem to care little for the people who work off-camera to make the world function on a daily basis, such as business and professional people, scientists, writers, and composers.1

Rooney's concern that we fail to appreciate the contributions of ordinary, less visible people and focus our honors and admiration primarily on the conspicuous is instructive. He is really calling attention to a general pattern of misplaced values in our culture to which few of us seem to be immune, even the regular folks he affirms. Success and self-worth are tied to conspicuous achievements and the tangible rewards that go with them, even though those conspicuous achievements may not be the sort that produce celebrity. To say it differently, the outward symbols of success become so important that other values fade from view and may even be sacrificed.

In our work life we are especially prone to linking self-worth to generally accepted indicators of success. If we are doing well on the job and getting recognized for it or we have jobs that seem meaningful and important, we are thereby endowed with a sense of being [somebody.] When we experience the opposite, we fear that we are [nobodies.]

The nature of our occupations and the success we have in them are enormously powerful factors in our own sense of identity and wellbeing. I can recall a time in my own life, years ago, when it seemed that circumstances would conspire to end my career as a teacher and theologian. The sense of impending loss was overwhelming, and the experience of searching for work in a new and alien field was threatening; I felt

-14-

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Ethics in Business: Faith at Work
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1: Bridging the Shareability Gap 1
  • 2: From Being a Nobody to Being a Somebody 14
  • 3: The Not-So-Secular World 28
  • 4: From Dualism to Dialogue 42
  • 5: Beyond the Moral Minimum 56
  • 6: Beyond Leadership to Servant Leadership 71
  • 7: Beyond Affirmative Action 86
  • 8: Beyond Mere Survival 102
  • 9: Beyond Certainty 121
  • 10: Beyond the Company Walls 136
  • Notes 149
  • Index 163
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