Tom’s Shoes wasn’t the first. Even decades ago Newman’s Own wasn’t the first. I don’t think we know who the first was, the market man who created a business to solve a real problem. A man or woman who felt compelled to do something because of their love for their neighbor. The problems the world has range from poverty to disease and everything in between, yet the greatest of all these is a poor spirit. For all the health and wealth in the world cannot and never will bring sustaining peace and joy. What is the solution to a poor spirit?
Faith, hope and love, the greatest of these being love. It’s not what you send to someone, it’s why. It’s not what you necessarily do with someone it’s why you spend the time with them in the first place. The biggest “problem” we have in our lives is salvation and it’s something we cannot buy or earn. All the money in the world, all the time and energy and effort in the world will not win you salvation. This is the great difference between what Jesus said and all the other religious figureheads. The thing we need most in our lives and we can’t attain it. We can only receive it. How much more is the weight of salvation through grace when you realize that you could never have done enough, never have given enough to charity, never volunteered enough, never spent enough time, never prayed enough, never worshipped enough? I could say it’s like me coming to you and telling you that you have an eight billion dollar debt and it’s due right now, but even that does not capture the truth, for it only deals with material things, not eternal. God gave us something we could never repay, following his own advice as stated in Luke 14:12-14. (Not to be understood that we should not give to those we love as well)
I have asked myself the question: How do you change the way it seems an entire country manages their money? How do you change the way someone spends their money? How to get them to care for others above their own needs? How do you change somebody? Answer: You can’t. You don’t. Only God and they can do so. There is a thing called influence and businessmen around the world know how to leverage it. I cannot make someone want to do something, but what I can do is provide an opportunity to those who already desire so. To believe that there are people who do already is a step of faith. To believe they would take advantage of an opportunity that I create would require hope. To put all the hard work, effort and time in the first place would require love and not love just for those people, but love for God, because sooner or later those people will disappoint and/or hurt me and being human I might stop, even temporarily, loving them (at least in action). Which is why I must love God first, for he will never let me down, though I may misunderstand and be in confusion at times, his actions are always in love towards us. So regardless of what those people do, if what I do is for God not them, what they do in response is almost completely irrelevant.
So what’s the point? I want to solve problems. I want there to be less hungry people, less trafficked humans in sex and labor slavery, less disease, less poverty. I want all the bad things to go away and i want to honor and glorify God in the process, yet it is unlikely that I will solve all the world’s problems, but I will not fall prey to the big picture. I can do something, therefore I feel obligated that I must, for if my actions do not match my words, than my words are false. If I say I love someone that what I do shows that. Well, I love God and in face of the odds and fear, my actions must show that. I am a man of faith, obviously, but I am also a business man and a realist to some degree, meaning I’m quite aware of the practical, the reality of things. I am also aware how faith trumps reality. This blog is getting long, sorry, I’m almost there. I see the world around me and the statistics of human trafficking, poverty, disease, etc. I know at the core that love conquers all those things, how it does so is an entirely other blog, or series of blogs, which if you want you can let me know, otherwise I’ll continue on.
I can go to the market, find a fisherman and buy a fish and I have solved my problem (hunger) for the day, but tomorrow and every day that follows I must do the same thing if I want to solve my problem. If someone teaches me how to fish then I don’t need the fisherman and I save a little money, but I still need to go fishing every day to solve my problem. What if there was a way that I didn’t have to go fishing every day or didn’t have to go buy the fish every day? What if there was a way that I could just go to the fisherman and make an agreement with him and every day he would bring me a fish? Maybe I make an agreement with a cook too and every day I know that my problem is solved; I will have a cooked meal every day to cure my hunger.
So what if all the problems of the world somehow made agreements with merchants all over the world? I’m not sure what the percentages are, but usually it’s something like 10% of volunteers do 90% of the work, 10% of donors provide 90% of the supportive funds. We are starting to understand the power of the collective with concepts like Kickstarter and GoFundMe. Maybe $1 doesn’t do much, but if a million people give $1 it’s a totally different story. Partner that thought stream with this one: I believe business exist to solve a problem. Someone sees a need, so they create a way to fulfill that need and a business is created. People want a way to carry all their music around without lugging around all their CD’s so the iPod is created. Well, we’re great at creating products that solve our own wants and needs, but what if we could create products and services that solve our AND other peoples problems?! Tom’s Shoes believed he could and he is. What if an entire network of industries followed suit? If we live in a system of Free Market Capitalism than why not free the people that aren’t free? Freedom Market Capitalism. What we need to create isn’t just new business concepts, it’s a new system, a new way of doing business; to solve problems, all problems, the most important ones, and to do so out of the abundance of love overflowing from our Heavenly Father. Give Capitalism a heart.