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Mount Creative Writers

On the theory of Social Justice

Alexandra Tyminski
MSM Class of 2015

(3/2014) When you come to college, you arenít expected to know exactly what your major is going to be. Sure, everyone has some idea or maybe an interest, but the majority of students are undecided. You know what youíre good at: writing, crunching numbers, studying anatomy, working with people, working with computers, and the list goes on. A year and a half after I started at Mount St. Maryís University, I decided that I found the major for me: Business.

Most of my friends and a few family members were confused by this choice. "Alex, business?" "But, donít you want to work with people?" "Donít you want to serve people?" "I wasnít expecting business." Little did they know that I was called to serve people through business.

To many, this may seem like a foreign concept. Most examples in the news today are filled with schemes that reveal a successful businesspersonís betrayal of society. It shows us their lack of beneficence, the desire to do good for others. On the surface, it is hard to understand how business contributes to the good of society. But in reality, it can have everything to do with it.

Pope Francis, spoke on January 1 for the celebration of the World Day of Peace. He emphasized fraternity and how "without fraternity, it is impossible to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace." He reminded us that within the world lies relative poverty, inequality between people living together in different regions of countries. Pope Francis said, "In this sense, effective policies are needed to promote the principle of fraternity, securing for people Ė who are equal in dignity and in fundamental rights Ė access to capital, services, educational resources, healthcare and technology so that every person has the opportunity to express and realize his or her life project and can develop fully as a person." He is saying that as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, we must make sure that we are supporting each other by recognizing the importance of human dignity.

This takes me to his other message given in January at the World Economic Forum. This forum was specifically held for business and economic leaders. Pope Francis recognizes the importance of business leaders within societyís changes. He emphasizes that even today; the growth in poverty is increasing enormously with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Therefore, the greater gap between the wealth distributions is causing more inequality and social exclusion. What does this mean for business leaders? In order to create more social justice and brotherhood, Pope Francis asked prominent leaders that work in the political and economic sectors to "have a precise responsibility towards others, particularly those who are most frail, weak and vulnerable." Corrupt business leaders, money scandals, and the power that can come with being so important may try to overcome Pope Francisís challenge to these men and women. But, Pope Francis gives us comfort when he said that "the international business community can count on many men and women of great personal honesty and integrity, whose work is inspired and guided by high ideals of fairness, generosity and concern for the authentic development of the human family." He asks us as business people to acknowledge this challenge, accept it, and change it.

Our graduate writer, Megan Kinsella, is currently a missionary for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. In her article this month, she stresses the importance of filling the physical and spiritual needs of people everywhere. After getting to know Megan as a current student, friend, and mentor of Mount St. Maryís University, Iím confident that she is fulfilling her calling to help students in Louisiana recognize their need for Jesus Christ. Through writing about her own calling, she challenges us to ask God about what our own vocations are and how we can use them to the best of our abilities. She goes even further by saying, "Because we are all members of the Body of Christ, all sheep in the Good Shepherdís flock, it is our responsibility to provide for our brothers and sisters in need." Meganís reminder to be a brother and sister to everyone we meet is ironically the very same message of Pope Francis.

These messages speak to everyone differently. To me, it sinks deeper in my brain and my heart than a sunken ship. As a business student, I must aspire to be a business leader who promotes social justice for the poor and those who have become subjects to extreme wealth.

The resources that business leaders have to offer are extremely large. We have the ability to help people on earth truly live better and more secure lives. We have the ability to dedicate our knowledge of numbers, marketing, finance, economics, and international relations to making the world a better place.

Have I convinced you yet?

In writing this article, Iíve actually seen how my passion for business is growing faster each day. Iím only one person, but one personís intellect, business perspectives, and passion to change the lives of those in need is indeed one big person. Iím only 5í2íí, and the doctor tells me I wonít grow anymore. However, the height of my business plans is only beginning to grow. Iím learning that many other business students, like myself, have the intention of making all the amazing resources of our economy accessible to all people.

In remembering the goal of social justice, business leaders are bound to create brotherhood amongst our fellow nations. Globalization is good when it becomes about the betterment of the whole person or whole nation. Pope Francis said, "Business is, in fact, a vocation, and a noble vocation, provided that those engaged in it see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life."

My vocation began almost 3 years ago. One of the very first classes I ever took at the Mount was Economics 101. We learned about supply and demand, the bull market, and Adam Smith. Adam Smith, as many people know, is referred to as the father of capitalism. He says that capitalism will ultimately fail if the government does not support social justice. Adam Smithís idea of what a government should do brings us back to current society and todayís business leaders. Smithís book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, defines the three virtues of a person within a capitalist society. They are prudence, justice, and beneficence. Prudence helps individuals find the right moderation for their spending, but pushes them to work hard. Justice, says Smith, is "the main pillar that upholds the whole edifice of society." Beneficence is the ability to help others and do good for them. In society, Adam Smith recognizes that beneficence "is the ornament which embellishes, not the foundation which supports society." Smith sees that doing good for others is not always going to be everyoneís first choice, resulting in unethical business leaders throughout history as well as today. However, justice and beneficence working as a team within a capitalist society can create social justice for all.

This all seems fun and dandy. Now everyone can hold hands. If this article was easy to write, I would have found some creative way to depict these three virtues in a creative story to all of you earlier. It would have ended in a short and sweet paragraph. But, there is no perfect society. Unfortunately, there are always two sides to a story. And this, to me, is what not only separates business leaders and the government, but also society as a whole. On one side, there are the extremely rich, who seem to make enough money to supply a whole country with food and shelter. On the other side, there are those who believe distribution of wealth from those who make money is a right. So whereís the happy medium? Well, Iím not really sure if there is one. That may not be the answer you are looking for, but this is a topic that canít be digested in one article. Thomas Sowell, an American economist and philosopher, discusses the idea of wealth dependency. He says, "Most of us may lament the fact that so many more people are today dependent on food stamps and other government subsidies. But dependency usually translates into votes for whoever is handing out the benefits, so an economic disaster can be a political bonanza."

If I were a rich person and someone asked me to give my money to those who didnít have any, I would turn inward, consider my Christian character, and give something. If I were a rich person and someone asked me to give money to those who had never really worked before, I might say Iíll think about it or Iím sorry, maybe another time. My hesitation to give them money would be more than small. If I were an individual who watched rich people bathe in their money baths, I might demand for wealth distribution so that I too can enjoy some of the things they have. Now, this is certainly not only the case, but this portrays what society has become. And somehow, just somehow, politicians know how to play into it.

Iím not sure what this means for society, if we should be worried or not. But, I do know that the future business leaders and politicians can have an important role in formulating a more socially just society. Alexis de Tocqueville, a French political thinker, wrote a book called Democracy in America where he writes, "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."

When I graduate from Mount St. Maryís University in 2015, I will have an abundance of business opportunities. I will have the opportunity to be a leader who spreads equality of resources to those in need. I will have the opportunity to serve and love others through my acts of ethical business decisions. I will have the opportunity to make my mark on Americaís business world by binding my fellow brothers and sisters together as one big fraternity. As it was written, "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Read other articles by Alexandra Tyminski