I guess maybe I have a little “sexist” in me because I often call it “a woman’s intuition.” You know, that feeling in my gut that seems to know right from wrong, even when my brain is trying to rationalize an injustice. After all, the business signed a contract with us, we are completely within our rights to hold him to it, but does being within “rights” make it “right?”
I took my daughter to Egypt last month. We witnessed the beauty and awe of ancient history, and we witnessed the struggle and poverty of a third-world country. On one of our group excursions, our host explained the art school we were going to visit. It was a creative school that taught kids the beautiful skill of hand-knotting carpets. These children would otherwise be on the streets, but instead were clean, well-fed and making a little bit of money on their daily projects. They were eager to show us this new “school” concept.
Besides the knots in the carpets, upon entering the “school,” I certainly had a knot in my stomach. While they were all smiles and eager to show off the mastery of their skills, the scene could not have been more clear in my mind. I was witnessing child labor disguised as education. After watching the children “perform” their craft, we were shuttled upstairs where the men in suits worked hard to sell us the wares crafted by the kids downstairs. I wandered away from the group and back downstairs where one of the children begged me for money, which we were strictly advised before entering NOT to give the children. Of course we shouldn’t. Then the children might beg instead of work. The quickness of their minds and dexterities of their fingers were certainly a benefit to getting the job done quickly.
The “teacher” explained how fortunate these children were to be learning this enterprise, and how so many children are living dirty on the streets of Egypt. Capitalism and competition sometimes allows us to reason that something wrong could possibly be right. I tried to reason it, but my gut was clear and unwavering. Profiting at the hands of working children is wrong.
The temptations are the same in the United States right now, to an extent I have not witnessed in my lifetime. The temptation is constantly there to justify crossing a line in the name of competition, in the name of business survival. In the end, your gut will be there to remind you that your actions were right. Take stock of the companies succeeding right now. Take stock of their leaders. And by all means, listen to your gut.