Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

The Secret To Corporate Values Uncovered In Ancient Rome

Chapter 1 My Corporate Idolatry Part 4

I thought about the sacrifices I had made for the company, such as my fitness, my sleep, my time with family, and my focus.  In fact, the company gave out an award at the quarterly “all hands” employee meeting to the person who showed the most company spirit, which often came in the form of getting on a plane at a moments notice, or canceling a vacation.  Every quarter I was disappointed that I didn’t get it.

My corporation was my idol.  I knew it was true in the pit of my stomach, but the rational scientist in my head wanted more information.  A few days later I found a great article on the internet called “What is So Terrible About Idolatry” by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, editor of ‘Ask the Rabbi’ at Rabbi Freeman described what is distinctive about idolatry in places like Babylon in the ancient world.  “If you don’t like what one god demands of you, you go find another god more to your taste. … After all, none of them is supreme, none is all-powerful.”  

This is just like the corporate world.  There are many different companies, each with its own culture and values.  And if you don’t like the values of your company, you can move to another.  For example, if you think your company is not honest enough with customers, you can find one that is more transparent.  But if you think transparency is bad for business, there is a company for you too.  There is no overriding set of values, beyond the need to be profitable.

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  1. Greg Marcus says

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  2. You make me think about Shadrach, Mishach and Abed-nego (their Babylonian names) the friends of Daniel who were cast into the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar for not worshipping the colossus that he built. This was a statue of precious metal that was about 70% as tall as the Statue of Liberty, at least according to the biblical scholars at Reformed Theological Seminary (Christian Protestant) where I study. But more importantly, the Colossus was a representation of the spirit that animated the person who sat on the throne of Babylon. I.e., just like the Romans, it was emperor worship. Our corporate symbols certainly can be idols, when the company it represents replaces God as our greatest good, the thing or being to which we give our ultimate allegiance. Very interesting insights, Greg. I’ve worked through a lot of this already but it’s great to see someone else validating it!


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