A CEO Contemplates: "It Was The Best of Times; It Was The Worst of Times..."

by Aman Singh Das | January 05, 2011

  • My Vault

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us..."

--Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

There was so much that stood out from 2010: The BP oil spill, persistent rates of incredibly high unemployment, the lack of progress on global warming, record corporate profits on Wall Street with record pain on Main Street, people being thrown out of their homes and a deal to make the rich even richer by an extension of the Bush era tax cuts.

I saw little wisdom, much foolishness, increasing darkness, less hope and endless despair.

None of the headlines captured the most important stories of the year, the story that you couldn't take a picture of or even write a headline about.

Just as we don't notice the snowflakes melting in the afternoon sun, we can't see the sadness on the face of a fifth grader who has given up on learning, or how the same child is affected by the lack of nutrition which reduces his attention and learning ability.

Or the Marine veteran returning from Afghanistan who no longer believes in war, the mom using food stamps for the first time, the college graduate who unable to find work moves back home or the tears in Barack Obama's eyes as he faces a nation that he no longer has the confidence to fix.

More and more pain is afflicted upon those least able to bear it.

Their decay and decline, their despair and depression, that slowly but surely grips this once great country is for me, the biggest and saddest story of the year.

While the progressive, responsible, sustainable, liberal-leaning, culturally astute, well educated, and comfortably well off – show no moral outrage.

Fail to stand up and protest.

Donate a little but not enough.

Send an occasional email voicing a political point of view.Talk passionately at parties.

Don't work in soup kitchens and listen to music on their IPods as the once great nation slowly and silently tears apart at the seams.

--By Jeffrey Hollender

Jeffrey Hollender is co-founder and former CEO of Seventh Generation, which he built into a leading natural product brand known for its authenticity, transparency, and progressive business practices. For more than 25 years, Hollender has been helping millions of Americans make green and ethical product choices, beginning with his bestselling book, How to Make the World a Better Place, a Beginner’s Guide. He went on to author five additional books, including What Matters Most and Naturally Clean. Hollender is a board member of Greenpeace US and Verite. He is also co-founder of the American Sustainable Business Council, a coalition committed to changing the rules of business through public policy.

Related Reading:

An Interview with Jeffrey Hollender: "Take the 'S' Out of CSR"

Book Review: In a Changing Corporate Consciousness, Are You A Willing Outlier?

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CSR 2010, Part VII: Holding Up the Mirror to Sustainability in 2010

CSR 2010, Part VI: 5 Reasons Why Sustainability Grew Up in 2010

CSR 2010, Part V: New Times; Old Challenges

CSR 2010, Part IV: Corporate Social Responsibility Shifts From Cubicle to Boardroom

CSR 2010, Part III: Don't Let Your Job Search Define You

CSR 2010, Part II: Emerging Career Choices in Supply Chain & Sustainability

CSR 2010, Part I: The Sudden Explosion of Commentary on Corporate Social Responsibility

CSR 2010: Lasting Impressions From a Volatile Year

Filed Under: CSR

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