» download (mp3, 14:33)

We’re continuing our exploration of the economic crisis by asking a fairly specific set of questions:”Do you see this as a spiritual and moral crisis?” “Where are you looking now for leadership, for guidance?” As promised, we turned to a financial expert operating within the banking industry, Prabhu Guptara.

Several years ago, Krista spoke with Guptara when the fallout of the Enron scandal was wreaking havoc on the U.S. economy and shaking investor confidence in corporate practices and business fundamentals. His PowerPoint presentation titled “The Gods of Business” resonated with many listeners at the time. His message was simple but challenging, and also quite liberating for much of our audience — bring your personal values into the workplace. For Guptara, doing this is one of the best ways of making ethical decisions that will lead to moral integrity — and less corruption and scandal.

In the coming days, we’ll make available Kate’s interview with medical researcher Dr. Esther Sternberg. Unlike Prabhu Guptara and Martin Marty (listen to his thoughts on trust in uncertain times here), Sternberg doesn’t view this as a moral issue at all, but a biological one. And, we’re in the process of editing Krista’s conversation with Quaker educator Parker Palmer, which will be released via podcast on December 11th.

We’re releasing all of these mp3s for download in our podcast. And, check back here at SOF Observed for future conversations with wise thinkers, including Shane Claiborne.

Also, we’re looking to our readers and listeners for fresh thinking and language about how to talk about the current economic crisis. How has this changed you, your family, your community? And not just financially, but in terms of personal conscience and values? We’d like to hear from you. Tell us your first person story about your experiences.


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6Reflections

Reflections

Just spent the last hour listening to the interview with Prabhu Guptara. Ms. Tippett could have held the interview last week; for it is startling how appropriate and relevant Mr. Guptara's thoughts are. It is also veryvery sad that it is so. Particularly, his idea that there is an acute necessity “…to assert personal ethics and moral values in the world of business…”. His observation that US corporations business are regulated by law and not by principles and no one is controlling the unethical company policies and CEO's decision making was compellingly put. If only some banks and cooperation could have heard and reacted on this arguments years ago.

I found the similarities rather startling. Guptara's interview with Krista also challenged me to think about our current economic difficulties in different terms -- as not happenstance but something that probably resulted from a series of events. And these decisions aren't without consequence. They should require the decision-maker to think about others and the impact of his decisions. I wonder how often that really happens...


'Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.' -George Washington

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I've got to work that quote into our Repossessing Virtue series. Thanks Linda.

From the perspective of the business ethics, the global economic crisis is an evident consequence of the corporate world’s performance. First, we knew about the executive compensation, bonuses, and perquisites. Second, the hierarchical structure in most of organizations feeds the abuse of power, discrimination, and retaliation against those who ethically dare to discuss management policies and procedures. Third, the employment relationship means a lack of trust and commitment in both parties. Fourth, the core values, vision, and mission statements of organizations which say they value and respect people as the most important asset is an oxymoron. Fifth, ethics is above the law and cannot be regulated.

More than a fact, spirituality is a necessity in the history of today’s organizations at this time where chaos, misunderstandings, lack of real-ethical leaders, unhealthy conflicts, and an incommensurable greed for money is destroying human relationships. It must be a science that reconciles our human spirit, and measures the reliability/validity of its discourse with the appropriate response of shareholders, CEOs, executives, managers, supervisors, employees, customers, suppliers, or stakeholders in general as human beings.

People are the main responsibility in the psychological contract we create when we interact one with another. We, the people, scientifically, have to discover the essence of being spiritual in a world-organization where the sole responsibility is to make money surmounting ethics and values. Without morality, the foundation of any entrepreneurship undertaken is just assuming the risk for the benefit of a profit, and not for the people, who represents the ultimate businesses’ maintenance and the pay off on their investment.

Some people have come to understand - with the 2008 global economic turndown - what the saying what does a company profit if it make a lot of money and lose its human soul means.

I love the revisioning of the Sabbath, apractice of the presence of God.