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Going cross cultural to give back

As I See It

The Mississippi Business Journal’s editorial focus this week is corporate giving. I had an experience several weeks ago that really brought home what a giving society we

have in America, and pointed out that our generosity is not universal throughout the world.

We hosted two young Russian businessmen in our office for a day recently. They were visiting our country to learn more about how a free enterprise economy works.

This is the fourth Russian/East European group we have coached over the last few years. Some stayed a day, some for as long as a week.

These experiences came to us courtesy of the Mississippi Consortium for International Development, a group operating out of Jackson State University whose mission is

to promote cross-cultural understanding. I suspect that we have benefited as much from expanding our understanding of cultures outside the U.S. as our visitors have

benefited from meeting us.

Anyway, back to our two Russian visitors.

During a conversation, one of them asked pointedly why I took the time to talk with them and others from their country who had visited before. As I prepared to respond, I

saw that he held pencil in hand and was going to write down my answer. It was apparent that this was a question which intrigued my guests as much as the mechanics of

the free enterprise system.

My answer to these two young Russians will likely not surprise those who are regular readers of this column. The Scripture tells us that to whom much is given, much is

required. Though I felt that my short answer lacked the eloquence expected by these young men, it was the only answer I had.

What other reason could there be for taking time out of a busy schedule to give advice to others? I suppose we could do it for the ego lift that might come from people

seeking our advice and counsel. I suppose we could do it in hopes that others would like us. I suppose that we might do it because someone asked us to and we hate to

say no. Though these are options worthy of consideration, I don’t think they apply to me.

I believe that the Scripture was written to help guide our lives and to teach us how to live abundantly. The obligation it places on us to help others is both onerous and

uplifting. The reward of “giving back” is an indescribable satisfaction that we are in some way making things better for our having been here.

It is ironic that this question should arise while I was reading Jack London’s book, “Sea -Wolf,” which addresses the question of why anyone would do anything that does

not directly benefit the doer. The villain of the story is a strong and evil man who believes that all effort not directed at benefiting oneself is wasted. I find myself feeling

sympathy for this guy who, in my judgement, has such a distorted view of life.

Oh well, I suppose each of us must find meaning somewhere, and many believe that I waste time and energy pursuing life as I do. However, I’m pretty happy and many

in the world seem to be pretty sad, so I think I’ll just keep on doing what I do and leave others to their agenda.

Guess I’d better go, I have another group of Russians coming tomorrow to pursue the mysteries of the free world.


From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

— LUKE 12:48

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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