Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving as an Example of How Business can Further Societal Interest

In 1620, a small ship named the Plymouth with 102 passengers landed on the new American shores. In 1621, the colonists and the Wampanoag Indians shared a meal together from the harvest. By this time, the 102 members were down to about half due to their first year spent on the ship trying to survive the cold. They were greeted by a Native American who spoke English after returning home from a slavery escape at the hands of an English captain. Without that Native American’s help, the Plymouth visitors may have perished.

I wonder what was going through this Native American’s head and why he took such pity on the European settlers. Regardless of the reasons, he decided that him and his band of people would help the settlers find a stronger footing. The peace seemed to have worked out.  Perhaps it was his familiarity with the values of human life that made all of the difference in his decision process. Certainly, he and his band could have made it difficult for the Puritans to get off  the ship. 

It is also important to remember that the Puritans would have stayed in Holland if they did not find some way of starting over.  They had a need to create their own destiny and the new land seemed like a great opportunity. The problem they faced was that they did not have the money or resources to pay for such a trip on their own. They needed the business community’s help.

An investment group by the name of Merchant Adventurers looked upon the Puritans who fled to Holland to avoid English persecution positively and decided to finance their operations. As the Merchant Adventurers were a joint-stock company that invested in fine clothing, trade, fishing, and other activities they thought the trip may someday prove fruitful. The Puritan group was seeking more freedom and the investors were seeking greater opportunities. It seemed to have worked out in mutual self-interest. 

Business and societal change are part of the same existence. We often view business as separate from these wonderful moments in human history. Yet they are the motivations, resources, and pressures that help create meaningful interactions. Business can be a problem solver or a problem creator and this depends on the person making the decisions and the environmental pressures they face.  Yet, when we think outside of conventional approaches, we may find that there are times when business can further human interest.

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