> Current Issues > Business Ethics

Going Back to Work

May 9, 2009 | by Emuna Braverman

With the world changed so dramatically, how can I go back to business as usual?

How can I go back to work after such an incomprehensible catastrophe? How can I sell cars, extol the virtues of a particular brand of toothpaste, promote TV shows, evict tenants, dig a time like this? Everything I do seems meaningless, sacrilegious, profane. How do I go on?

On the other hand, how do we not go on? Our paralysis is a victory for terrorism, a triumph for evil. Our paralysis is a sign of despair. Our paralysis is a lack of trust in the Almighty, a gap in our belief in the Divine. The goal of terrorists is to bring us down. We can't let them succeed.

And yet it all seems so trivial. Momentous events are unfolding before my eyes and I feel my job has no intrinsic meaning. With the world changed so dramatically, how can I go back to business as usual?

We can't.

We must go back to business – but not as usual. We must go back to a changed workplace where we strive to put the needs of the country before personal gain, where the focus is on the value of the individual and not just the bottom line. We must go back to a changed workplace concerned with giving. What can we do for our country? What can we do for the victims? How can our corporation be a force for good?

And we must go back different ourselves. It's easy to feel pain and compassion when we read the newspaper stories. But how do we treat the guy in the next cubicle? We can strive to bring values and ethics into the office. It's noble to give blood and donate to the relief effort. But are we taking advantage of our employer? It's comfortable to complain about our jobs. But are we grateful that we have one?

True unity in this country will be achieved in the daily interactions between ourselves and others. If we espouse a united front on a grand scale and are backstabbing our competitor, we've missed the point.

September 11th was a day in which evil dominated the world. But all its consequences need not be negative. We can emerge better individuals and a better nation.

We've allowed the "Dilbert" mentality to dominate our workplace. Let's reclaim it. Everyone can be a hero in his or her own small way. Every worker can help save our country. All workplaces can promote honesty and caring, fairness and goodness. All workers can emulate God. Let's begin this relief effort now.

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