Tuesday, October 04, 2005

No More "Quiet Desperation"

Social entrepreneurs would do well to consider the following lines taken from T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland:

Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth Kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.

Eliot's allusion to a Dantean hell is unmistakable.

Too many denizens of our work-a-day world are experiencing a form of "death-in- life." If these people are experiencing any emotion, that is if they are not wholly dead, the emotion experienced is most likely that which Thoreau terms 'quiet desperation.'

But why?

I think it is because many people routinely end up in work that doesn't (as they see it) offer much more than a paycheck. These people, and they are legion, don't identify with the mission and values of the firms that employ them. They have chosen success (financial) at the expense of significance, and at the end of the day they just don't feel as though what they do at work, in the big scheme of things, matters much. In such circumstances, a deadening despondency is not to be unexpected.

As a banker working in the City of London, Eliot was able to observe this deadness in City employees on a daily basis.

Social/humanitarian entrepreneurship offers people a chance to combine success with significance. As social entrepreneurs we not only have the opportunity to help the disadvantaged, we, also, have the opportunity to help our neighbours escape the "dead sound on the final stroke of nine."

We enhance lives both here and abroad. We save lives, and in the same instant add new meaning to our own. I can't think of a better way to earn my keep. (see Making a difference while earning a living & www.nourishthechildren.com)

Let your neighbours know they have a choice.
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