Good Morning, and allow me to welcome you all to the beautiful Island of Mykonos, I would like to first begin by thanking the Organization Studies conveners, Marianna Fotaki, Yochanan Altman, and Juliette Koning, for their warm invitation to participate in this workshop on “Spirituality, Symbolism, and Storytelling.” I pray that this meeting be fruitful and an opportunity for the expansion of our understanding of each other, an understanding of what each and everyone of us carries in our hearts, the unique symbols that carry different weights for us individually, the stories each one of us grew up with, and the unique meaning we each take away, may we come to know each other and the Other; collectively and individually.
Based on the title I can assume I was invited today to speak on the matter of spirituality, or the Spirit. Allow me to briefly reflect from an etymological viewpoint on the word Spirit. Spiritus in Latin references breathing, more precisely respiration. Why does Christianity therefore put so much of a focus on this breath, this inhaling? The answer to this is found in the book of Genesis, “And God formed the man of the dust of the earth, and breathed upon his face the breath of life, and the man became a living soul.”
This breath, what we call spirit, is what makes us divine, it fills every cell, every code in our DNA, establishes every nerve, pushes blood through our very hearts, moves our bodies. Our physical being is animated by this breath of God, or mind is fed by our soul. It is our soul that seeks for the good, that calls man to love one another, a healthy soul gives our will flight, just as a healthy soul takes man’s mind to the heavens, a sick soul can run man into a hole, into a dark cave, where he sees neither love, nor light. We are our souls and bodies, they are not separate, instead they form a beautiful reflection of the Unity of the Triune God.
In Orthodox theology it is our souls that lifts us up from the animals of the earth and give us God-Manhood the core belief that this soul connects us all; into what we label as humanity. It is this Humanity that Christ himself took up in His incarnation. When He died for us, not only can we say He died for me, individually, but I must fully accept He died for my neighbor, for each and every human being. Regardless of race, gender and ethnicity, all of us; and when he resurrected he raised us all, just as he called Lazarus from the dead to rise up, he calls each one of us to eternal life. And when a lawyer asked Christ “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Christ) said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And (Christ) said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Why would an almighty God have “love of neighbor” as a prerequisite for eternal life, for entry into His kingdom?
This recollection from the Gospels rocks the notion of God being a tyrant over mankind and forever reminds man that God is their Father, who loves them. Besides the vast implication as to understanding why God requires love, there is also the implication as to what is love, how does one express it.
In the 21st (twenty first) century an organization’s main contact with it’s employees, customers, and even the surrounding community seems to be only of financial transaction. A leader of an organization that truly cared for all parties must not keep the relationship simply that, it must have insight into the true needs of both, the needs of body and soul. A healthy organization must have the spirit, amongst every level of management, of heart.
Finances as I’ve stated can take the heart out of an operation, and yet at the same time can be used as a tool to implement love, perhaps the greatest tool of an organization would be it’s accessibility to funds.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” Where does the economy today store its treasure, where does your own organization invest? The reality is you can tell where a company puts the most focus on by the amount they fund that operation, the same could be said for governments.
In the past, rulers invested in filling rooms in there palaces with gold, merchants would fill chests on their boats, and peasants would put the little they did have in satchels that they would tie around their necks, safeguarding them with their lives. It was a time when uncertainty and risk where feared, gold was standard and wealth kept close under lock and key. The only way to confirm your wealth to others was to physically possess it, thus treasure was on the human body and human touch, I would prefer not to give the illusion of a separation of body and soul but rather this form of hoarding was appealing to, what Aristotle would call, the appetitive part of the soul, simply the feeding of an internal need of gluttony (λαίμαργια), and greed.
From gold filled rooms the later centuries brought more diverse forms of banking. Whole cities could store their wealth in a local treasury and the wealthy patrons of a city, would invest in local monuments. The warring city states created factions that began to put their treasure in their cities, their hearts were joined to the fates of their provinces, they lived, died, and breathed for their factions.
In Italy, violent feuds amongst these city-states and their feudal lords lasted up until the reunification of Italy, some might even say they carry even unto today. Societies invested in arts, architecture and the continuation of bloodlines, their hearts were with their pride and ego, again the self. In line with Aristotle this could be considered the Honor loving self, it would seem as if based on our inner will we have progressed.
However if we continue chronologically to the modern era of economic theory, an era ushered in when society began to realize the most lucrative business was the business of business, we will see digression rather then progression. There are organizations simply set at collecting money, they have no positive impact, produce very few jobs, and humanity is completely foreign to their outlook of business, they operate as parasites, simply sucking money out of whole societies, creating post-colonial Africa looking circumstances even in western nations, this can be especially witnessed in cities that formally served as hubs of some major industry.
How is it then that the largest economies and organizations in the world are for the most part simply that, just that. Big numbers on a computer, just that. Our treasure shifted from the arts and architecture to our treasure? But is it our treasure that is to blame?
“Money is the root of all evil.” This saying has become a part of the common vernacular. The saying seems to put the blame of all the evil in this world on money. Take the U.S. dollar for example, this inanimate object made from linen, cotton, and silk fibers. This piece of paper is what the saying blames as the root of all evil. How could the same piece of paper used to buy weapons of mass destruction, also buy lifesaving medical equipment, and food for our families; I therefore bring you attention to the true root of all evil. This saying is actually from the Epistle to Saint Timothy: “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” It is not money that is evil, it is not the banks, nor even a man that is wealthy, but evil is when we lose sight as to why we want money, as to why we collect a treasure and we begin to simply do it for the love of money.
The governments of the west have worked so hard to create these massive, intricate, sophisticated systems of commerce. Billions upon billions of euros are spent on the banking industry, we have fallen in love with money. If you walk the halls of most European parliaments it is the economy that is at the center of every ones focus, not human rights, not the dignity of man, nothing of what once made Europe, Europe.
Organizations must change, leaders must begin to love. We must stop loving money and start spending it on what we love. I mentioned that the largest economies have become simply large economies. While one may believe that having money solves all of our problems;
- statistically wealthier societies have higher rates of suicide,
- the largest economy in the world has also the highest per capita imprisoned citizens, we throw more waste in the oceans then we fish,
- after adjusting for inflation we are poorer as a society then 50 years ago yet simple things like education are hyper-inflating,
- we spend more on war then on anything else,
- millions of people are living in homes with mortgages valued higher then their homes are worth, millions more have no home at all,
- 80% of people across the globe live on less then 10 USD a day,
- 660 million people live on less then 2USD a day,
- more than 385 million people live on less than 1USD a day,
- one in eight people cannot read, write, and/or sign their names,
- almost 2 in 3 people lack access to drinking water,
- 1.8 million children die of diarrhea every year,
- and yet 62 people have the wealth equivalent to 50% of the worlds total wealth. Collectively we are wealthier today then ever before in the history of the human experience yet individually we find ourselves worse off.
We must end the concept that a richer economy means a better society. We must transform ourselves into truly human beings; we must stop spending are whole lives working simply to accumulate money for the sake of accumulation. We must transition our organizations over to a more holistic ones, a better, happier, and healthier society naturally has the side effect of better business. The more we invest in our society, the more people become stakeholders in their economy and their destinies, the harder they work to save what they feel connected to. They must feel apart of the fabric of the organization.
Saint Peter writes, “Like newborn babies; crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it, you may grow up in your salvation” a balanced and transformed self does not happen overnight. We as a whole society must go through spiritual darkness to notice spiritual light, we must suffer to know joy, and learn of what it means to hunger in order to know when we are full. Perhaps this fear of suffering anything other than joy is what has caused us to hoard money and skills rather then share it. We fear a time when we will not be. Only a true man, a true lover of man, a philan-thropos, can surpass this fear with love.
We must go back to our very beginning, what causes us to follow our various lines of to work. Was it simply the accumulation of money, did you say when you were a child, “I want to open a doctors office so I can have a big bank account,” or was it something deeper, something truly, I would say, divine, “I want to open a doctor’s office, to serve my fellow man, to make the world even the tiniest bit happier, to share with them what I believe is what God has given me as a gift. To heal the sick”.
All economies, organizations, business, even personal finances exhale and expand and at one point, and yes they must inhale and contract, what we in the modern age must be prepared to do is to be united and lend our hand to our fellow man, to “love our neighbor.” An awaken man does not fear loss, a Christian sees gain in every loss, earning love, wisdom, and yes sometimes mystery, but his faith that there is a God “who loves mankind” keeps him always looking up, to the stars, the planets, and the heavens, full of hope, where there is hope there is joy. It is not enough to tolerate our fellow human-being, or be accepting of him, as is common vernacular in modern circles, but to truly love them, their strengths, their weakness, their joy and their pain. That is what Christ calls us all to do, that is what Christianity is.
I mentioned love many times, not tolerance. Tolerance has a limit, it is love that is limitless. For in order for a simple man to truly change we must change from the depths of our soul, we must know our creator, know God, St. John writes “Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love.”
In the Gospel of Matthew, Christ says the following parable “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hiddin in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Christ here tells us that those who truly love something, who truly want something, will give everything to obtain it. Therefore, I not only ask but am commanded by Christ to plead to you all on behalf of those who have no voice to speak for them, that you saturate your organizations, from upper management to every level, with love. Make human beings the core of your organizations, feed them, clothe them, care for them; change the focus of your industry on to man and you will create a happier society. A society grounded on love should truly be our goal. As a global community we must accept that the love of money has nothing to offer us, money is simply our tool in spreading help and love to our fellow man.
Transparency, Accountability, and Responsibility. This motto is what I use as a administrative foundation in my diocese, consider it a push on the pendulum of change.
An organization with spirit must be transparent in dealings, “let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” Ephesians chapter 4 verse 25.
Be accountable in actions, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew chapter 12 verse 36
And Be responsible, to who? to your neighbors, the community, and most importantly the leader of the organization must be responsible to themselves. Each and everyone of you must be able to look in the mirror and not feel guilt; sometimes we become our own the harshest critics, we cannot hide from ourselves.
Deep down in all of us we hear cries, the organizational structures currently in place in governments, corporations, organizations, and even the home must change. These cries come from what many would call a conscience, I prefer this voice to be our inner divinity, our souls. Our souls call us to goodness, call us to love.
Again I would to thank the conveners of this workshop, for their invitation to this event, a gathering of like minded individuals who recognize the system is sick and if we can synthesize what makes man, man, with our organizational structures perhaps we can make life more livable.
Let us all, by the Grace of God, become more sensitive to our souls voice and to our neighbor’s hearts. Despair we must not, know that (Christ’s) grace is sufficient for thee: for (God’s) strength is made perfect in weakness. 2nd Corinthians chapter 12 verse 9.