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Monrovia, Montserrado County, Liberia

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Re: Screw Business as Usual

Nature is increasingly worried at the flagrant way businesses are going about depleting everything they see for profit without little regard for a reciprocal responsibility on their part. Everything man met on this earth has been reduced to numbers and toggled ‘profitable’, including man himself. For centuries on, businesses have made trillions of dollars on the back of the earth leaving in its wake horrors of cloud hanging about our neck, and that of future generations. As if the plunder is not enough, business leaders have shown little to no concern about the environment, and the genocide they commit continues to pollute the air we take in.

Erich Fromm’s book ‘To have or To Be?’ — is a master piece that delivers this message of man’s disregard for the environment in a much radical way, yet powerful enough to be ignored. He pointed out that the earth is being reduced to a rubble by man’s ambition to ‘have’ (possess) everything he wants, and not to ‘be’ (share). Everyone wants to have this or that which comes with a bag of consequences for our planet. Though the Industrial Age was necessary, it’s becoming the evil of our time creating what Fromm referred to as, ‘marketing characters’ who are driven in the machine-like fashion. Love for nature, oneself, neighbor, solidarity, community and the environment have been traded for profit, individualism and survival. We need to address the misfortunes that await us tomorrow if we would want to survive, and this project of doing good for the planet has been a burning passion of Richard Branson. This man, of Virgin Group fame, is inundating the world with his ideas in many areas of concern: climate change, entrepreneurship, clean energy, and world peace. His passion has given way to such projects as Branson Centers, Virgin Unite, The Elders, Carbon War Room and the B-Team among others that have all proven to be forces for good.

In his book ‘Screw Business As Usual’ Branson wrote that, “Writing a cheque might impact hundreds of people’s lives; mobilizing your whole business to drive change can impact millions of lives, and give a whole new life purpose to all the people who work in your company”. I was struck reading this from his book. I have admired this man for his many entrepreneurial endeavors, and for helping the youths of South Africa build their, hitherto, broken lives from the ground up. However, there’s a funny look on his face whenever he wore a smile. There’s this crack that appears signaling the presence of a hidden agenda. What this agenda is about could best be answered by him? He alone knows. Nonetheless, from the narrative perspective, Branson has set for himself and his compatriot targets to meet which borders on doing good while your business does good too. He’s partnering with statesmen’s, entrepreneurs, and not-for-profit groups to get most of this project off the books to the world.

He wrote that, “How we treat our world is a reflection of our humanity, our intelligence, our conscience and ultimately, our very survival. The way in which we co-exist with our natural environment strengthen fragile societies, and support vulnerable populations is the very foundation of a sustainable future-business or otherwise”. I am pretty sure the world would have been much safer, cleaner and fairer had Branson set about doing good when he first started his many Virgin brands from rubble level up. We all have goodness deposited in increasing measure in us. How we do what we do is because of what we want and not what all of us including the earth want. The tone of his book sounded mystic, the usual sound bite of the typical business guru who has screwed the world including its many rich deposits for his fortunes. However, the message he puts across that: doing good is good for one’s business is serious, apt and timely. There could not be any right time. We need to raise the concern for every business to be environmental and carbon conscious.

A great man once said that, the good we do, we do not for ourselves, not for one man, but for the great of all humanity. Nature will cry on us if we should continue with our current indifferent behavior. We can do good.