Vartan Gregorian on Liberty

I’m an unabashed fan of Vartan Gregorian, and was quite taken with his thoughts in Ken Burn’s film The Statue of Liberty:

"If you could say one single force that is threatening liberty, in my opinion, it’s ignorance.

Second, is to treat ourselves as only economic units, rather than as spiritual beings.

America is not an actuality, but is a potentiality.  We have to remember that the Universe is not going to be seeing somebody like you again in its entire history of creation.  So it’s up to you to become a dot, a paragraph, a page, blank page, chapter in the history of creation."

The modern corporation is one of the finest inventions of past 500 years; it has helped create an elevated state of innovation unknown to all previous generations of mankind.  However, it often suffers from a lack of respect for the individual humans who sustain its economic well-being.  Though they are its lifeblood, these people all too often are regarded by the corporation’s management as mere “resources” or cost centers to be dealt with as primarily economic units, rather than as unique individuals.  I don’t think corporations are going to become more humane and respectful of the individual anytime soon. 

But individuals can make a difference.  If you work for a corporation that mistreats its employees or the society in which it operates in the name of maximizing shareholder value, try to make it more humane from the inside, or vote with your feet.  Just do something — start making changes yourself within the company, or take your once-in-the-Universe potentiality somewhere else.  It’s hard to do, I know.  But if we all did it, our society would benefit from a powerful opportunity to balance the liberty-threatening power of the modern corporation.