Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Marriage and Social Responsibility (In Which I Try Not to Share Too Much Personal Information)

Our first day of this class, I happened to mention to one of our classmates (who has since dropped the class) that I would be getting married relatively soon. She responded jokingly (at least, I hope jokingly- it was hard to tell) "Oh, and your future husband is letting you go to grad school?"

I didn't really know how to respond to that. If I said "Yes, of course," that would imply that there was a chance he might have said no, which in turn would have implied an unequal and controlling relationship between us. "No" would have obviously been incorrect, as I am currently enrolled in grad school, and the whole truth- which is much more complicated- would have been WAY too much information for someone I had just met, like, fifteen minutes before. In fact, it may be too much information for all of you now, but I promise that this is going somewhere relevant.

The fact of the matter is that I did discuss with my fiance my decision to go to graduate school, he did have input, and had he said "No, I really don't think this is a good idea," I probably would not be here today. Not because he is the man and he knows best, or because he is financing this whole thing (oh, don't I wish- thanks US Bank!) or whatever, but because we have a mutually respectful relationship, and I know that he would not ask me not to do something that I really thought was best without a good reason. This goes both ways, and we are not unique in this regard. In fact, I don't think it is going out on a limb to say that this is a pretty common element in a lot of successful relationships. We make plans and decisions for ourselves, all the while with an eye to the best interest of both the other person and our very small and right now VERY not-for-profit organization.

This consideration, I believe is the basis for successful social responsibility amongst corporations. You can see examples of it all through this week's readings. Sometimes, as Jessica pointed out in her post, social responsibility benefits an organization. Sometimes, it may be a neutral act. As an example, the Cadbury article talks about his father's decision not to make a profit off of a war he didn't believe in. He was able to do what he thought was right to support the morale of the troops, and his company did not suffer- he still sold the candy at cost- but he did not benefit.

The question, then, becomes whether or not society reciprocates with the best interest of the company in mind. This does not seem to be the case until one considers Friedman's point that companies are comprised of individuals, who benefit from a healthy society, and in turn are presumably better able to perform at their jobs.

It is simpler, of course, to consider the needs and best interests of two people, as in a marriage. It becomes more complicated, however, when you factor in a whole organization. And the "Parable of the Sadhu" raises some significant ethical questions. But, as McCoy points out, "not every ethical dilemma has a right solution." The important thing, he says, is to develop a process to deal with these dilemmas as they arise- thus completing the circle back to the beginning of the course when we discussed leadership as a process.

I would guess that probably, developing processes to deal with issues as they arise is probably a pretty useful skill to have in a marriage as well. I will know after this Saturday. Wish me luck.

1 comment:

  1. Marriage is a beautiful thing. Wish you all the sweetness and happiness:)

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