03 Jan What is Your Business?
From the Desk of Carol Soelberg
United Families International wishes you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year. We are exited and concerned for the prospects of the New Year! Excited because we know families CAN be strengthened and protected. Concerned because we have not yet realized the resources from our faithful followers needed to assure a continued course towards that protection and strengthening.
The question Tom Christensen asks in this week‘s alert is a very pertinent question. What is YOUR business? What is most important to YOU? What are you doing to promote YOUR priorities? YOU can make a difference in the world, in your community, and in your home. Please recognize the need to promote those things most precious to you. Help us secure a future for families.
What Is Your Business?
“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
–the character Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol
Every Christmas, my family watches a movie version of Dicken’s novella, A Christmas Carol, and my wife’s favorite, It’s a Wonderful Life. Both films portray strong men who through supernatural means revisit segments of their lives, glimpse into their futures after death or if they never existed, and discover what matters most in life.
These tales are cherished because they are filled with hope, inspiration, and family values. Audiences relate to the human frailties of the main characters–qualities they observe in themselves and others–and celebrate their redemptions. It’s a Wonderful Life, produced by Frank Capra in 1946, was recognized by the American Film Institute as number 11 of the 100 best American films ever made and number one on its list of the most inspirational American films of all time. A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens in 1843, is the most beloved Christmas story of all time. According to historian Ronald Hutton, its publication spearheaded the observance of Christmas throughout the world as a family centered festival of generosity.
In The Christmas Carol, Scrooge is forced to confront his prior circumstances and life choices. Key to his wretched state was his economic decision to put off marriage and family. God, Christmas, family and the concerns of others became a “humbug” to him with no place in his life or business model. However, through the ministrations of spirits, he views with new perspective his current state and his future. He sees his own ignominious death and unkept grave, the suffering of the Cratchit family and the death of their precious son Tim for which Scrooge bears some responsibility, and the harrowing accounting/afterlife facing him. He painfully learns that his business is not about making money but about advancing mankind.
Conversely, in It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) possessed all of the things Scrooge lacked: a wonderful wife and children; the love and respect of friends, business associates, and extended family; and a family business that values its employees and serves its clients. However, George’s uncle almost bankrupts George’s Building and Loan, and George faces, for the first time in his life, financial crisis and scandal. With bank examiners on the scene holding a warrant for George’s arrest, George contemplates suicide to apply his life insurance premium to the bank’s deficits. George turns to God and is saved by a “guardian angel” who shows George the many lives he has touched. In the end, George’s friends and family pray for, raise funds for, and rally around him; and George is saved from financial ruin.
At the conclusion of both tales, Scrooge and George experience a joyous epiphany, culminating in a renewed appreciation for life, family, and their remaining time on the earth. George’s brother, who rushes to his aid along with George’s many friends, toasts him at the conclusion, “To my big brother George: the richest man in town.” Scrooge vows to remember the lessons he has been taught and to “honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.” According to the narrator, “Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew…”
Clearly, most people prefer to own a nice home in the “good old city” than rent in the hostile world of Pottersville. They prefer a life centered on family rather than on selfish leisure, government paternalism, or greedy business practices. Most realize that poor houses, jails, public housing and schools, publicly funded abortion, and government welfare are not the answers to the vexing societal problems of Ignorance and Want. Rather, the answer is a limited, balanced government; economic freedom; and a legion of well organized, life welcoming, self-sufficient individuals, families, charitable institutions, and businesses that freely give of their time, talents, and resources. As survey after survey indicates, most people long to please God, live up to their potential, belong to and care for someone, and leave this world a better place with family members and associates who honor their memories.
At the start of a new year, may we, like the fictional characters Scrooge or George Bailey, reflect on past decisions, evaluate the present, and make course corrections to put our families, businesses, communities, and nations back on track. Mankind is our business, and the family is the primary seedbed, cultivator, mentor, and nurturer of mankind. So long as we live, it is not too late to change, reconcile, or cast off bad habits that bind like Morley’s chains. So long as a nation exists, it is not too late to restore the principles and private institutions that make it stable, kind, generous, compassionate and good.