Signs of the Times (#15)
15. The business leader faces a world characterized by a complicated mix of factors. To try to understand them, we need to follow the guidance given in the document Gaudium et Spes of Vatican II; that is, we have the task “of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel”. Some of these signs point to factors that limit what leaders can do to realise the good by constricting their behaviour and closing down avenues of creativity. Other factors create new opportunities for managers and entrepreneurs to serve the common good and the potential for new circles of solidarity to infuse our social, political and economic life. The world around us, therefore, presents a complex interplay of light and dark, of good and evil, of truth and falsehood, of opportunities and threats.
Interpreting what’s going on in our society in light of the teachings of the Church is very important. Without doing that, we’ll use other criteria (personal views, our own comfort, politics, or Hollywood endorsements) to help us form judgments, and we’ll argue with others who have used different criteria.
Once we decide not to do that and to form our judgments by applying Catholic social doctrine (CSD), our life becomes in one way simpler and in another more complex. Simpler, because we have found one set of principles on which we can always rely. More complex, because we have to learn more about CSD.
Of course, not all decisions are black and white. But any decision made after considering the tenets of CSD will be a better decision. God gave us our intellect and free will which we should treasure and exercise. And those faculties help us sort through the moral dimensions of a decision should that be necessary.
Look at the signs of our times: Christians murdered in Nigeria, countries burdened by huge debt loads, outlandish CEO salaries, water turned off to the poor of Detroit, refugees streaming over our borders… How does the Gospel shed light on these signs?