The Common Good

Changing Bad Behavior at Davos

The contradictions here in Davos are enormous. Many of the wealthiest and the most powerful people in the world are here. Yet there is more and more talk about values -- even a yearning for them -- especially in the wake of this economic crisis, which most here now believe was also a crisis of values. There is more sincere talk of the common good.

Right now I am listening to a panel on "The Social Contract" and there is much encouraging talk about a company's responsibilities to society and even the common good -- "doing good while doing well," and all that. But what there has not been much conversation about is what we do when rich and powerful people and institutions act against the common good.

For example, this economic crisis was not caused by all "the corporations" or even all "the banks." It was a crisis sparked by about six banks! Particular bank leaders from particular banks made some risky, short-term, selfish, and greedy decisions. So how do we just name that, and them, and tell them they need to change their behavior, or how do we hold them accountable for it, and make new rules and yes, laws that don't let them do it again?

Unless all our talk about "values" changes bad behaviors, we are just talking.

portrait-jim-wallisJim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street -- A Moral Compass for the New Economy, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

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