Where Is the Soul?
“Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” So asked the great poet T.S. Elliott in 1934. These questions are more applicable now than ever, in a time when so many people and so much of society are exclusively engaged in so-called practical pursuits of advancing in the world, knowing the latest fads and trends, and pursuing the gods of wealth and technology. We need to take a step back and ask, as Blessed Pope Paul VI and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI did in their encyclical letters Populorum Progressio (1967) and Caritas in Veritate (2009), what makes for real development and progress? Is it simply having more wealth and technology? Or should we not adhere to what Pope Paul VI called a “full-bodied humanism” that “will enable our contemporaries to enjoy the higher values of love and friendship, of prayer and contemplation, and thus find themselves.” Should business and politics not have a higher calling than merely gaining more wealth or satisfying more desires? Can we not, as Pope Emeritus Benedict advised, make such things as love, friendship, beauty, and the call to immortality, the overriding “principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macrorelationships (social, economic, and political ones).” Can business and politics not have a soul?
In this book, Professor Michael Czinkota gives advice about how international businesses can have a soul that promotes such human development. In so doing, he avoids the superficial and limited categories of so-called liberal and conservative, left-wing and right-wing thought. Thus, for example, he recognizes the important place of free markets and international trade, but also puts such aspects of society in their rightful place, namely, of developing not merely profits but also such things as trust, virtue, and friendship. With 35 articles, mostly from the last two years, he presents a perspective of how conducting business according to higher values is good, not only for human development, but also for business itself. Thus, for example, he points out in chapter 1 that business that seek a holistic development of society will find themselves at a competitive advantage because that is what customers are increasingly seeking as well. And he describes in chapters 5–9 how building trust, friendship, and the development of the whole person are essential in keeping customers and promoting cooperation among employees. Likewise, he describes in chapters 3, 4, 14, and 30, among others, how respect and understanding for other people’s cultures is critical in successful international business and how international trade and investment can make each nation’s culture more unique and free.
Because people in the modern world are often busy and find it difficult to read large tomes, Professor Czinkota expresses his views in one- or two-page articles that can be read when one has a few spare minutes. (He advises reading them before getting to bed so that one wakes up more informed.) The articles are mostly organized to proceed from general principles to specific issues. Thus, section I covers the overall ideas of how businesses and societies should develop such principles as responsibly for society, trust, mutual respects, and even gift giving (see chapter 6). Section II summarizes the call to develop the soul of each person and business; and applies these insights to specific business international business issues such as Brexit, antidumping duties, international tax systems, visas, and even different approaches to art (chapter 15). Section III develops at more length a specific topic, namely, dealing with terrorism, to describe how a serious challenge to international business can encourage a broad perspective on human development. Thus, for example, he describes several times how flexibility in one’s business design and knowing many areas and people prevents terrorists from closing down a business by shutting off its only supply or outlet for a good or service. And he describes in chapter 22 how a concern for security against terrorism and a concern for the poor should be allied interests. In section IV, Professor Czinkota then takes on some current issues, especially those of the Trump Administration, such as the proposal to increase tariffs, trade with Cuba, and medical tourism, arguing that the central consideration should not only be the impact on productivity, but also on such things as cooperation, innovation and, as he says in chapters 33 and 35, “truthfulness, simplicity, expanded participation, and personal responsibility.”
On that point, Professor Czinkota concludes the book with an analogy to Jesuit training. As Jesuits are sent into the world as “soldiers of God,” we should train our bodies, minds, and souls to be more than “bean counters.” Rather we should be soldiers for such causes as truth, simplicity, participation, and responsibility, which are also the basis for a truly democratic society, a theme of chapters 2 and 3. In so focusing on greater goals, even business itself will be more efficient, more satisfying, and better able to last into an uncertain future. As Jesus says elsewhere, “Seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all else will be given to you besides.” Matt 6:33.
Author: Rev. Edward Horkan is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington and pastor of Our Lady of the Valley parish. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1990 with a B.A. in Economics and a Minor in English Literature. He then earned a J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School and practiced tax and employment benefit law with Groom and Nordberg, a Washington, D.C., law firm, for four years before entering seminary. Fr. Horkan attended Mount St. Mary in Emmitsburg, MD for one year and the North American College in Rome for four years. In Rome, Fr. Horkan earned a S.T.B. and an M.A. in Spiritual Theology from the University of St. Thomas, also called the Angelicum.