We are human beings, not human doings is a phrase I have found myself using almost weekly as I work with those dying. When we come to the end of our life it is natural to do two things, one is life review: How did I live my life, did I do it right? Am I proud? Am I ashamed? All of it? Most of us spend our lives working. Working towards something, working at something, working out of necessity. What happens when we cannot produce anymore? When our life has become being relegated to the bed? It becomes hopeless, that’s what. When we spend our life defining our worth by what we do and not who we are, our identity itself has become a commodity.
In Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber helps us to start to understand why we have ended up here in this time and place with capitalism and how we have ownership, (or our ancestors and denominational protestant family) have some ownership. Everyone smart around me does the “oh…Weber” when I talk about reading this book. I was intimidated before I even purchased it… and actually not at all interested in reading about Protestantism or capitalism. It didn’t interest me, and I was not making the connection to my NPO in any way. As Kathryn Schulz in her book Being Wrong “If we relish being right and regard it as our natural state, you can imagine how we feel about being wrong.” Hold on to your seat, I admit, I was wrong! I feel this will be a book I will have to wrestle with for a while, but I liked it. It helped when I found out Weber is a sociologist. I majored in sociology in college and loved studying why we are the way we are in context to community and tribe. This bit of knowledge of who Weber was helped open my mind as I read him. I also had to utilize a YouTube video called “Why this text matters” by a Theology professor at University of Chicago Divinity School named Will Shultz. If you struggled with this book, I would recommend his 20ish minute video.
Weber introduced a quote made popular by Benjamin Franklin “Time is Money”. I would argue that this has a twofold meaning, Time is Money and money is needed for Time! As I encounter those heading to the last part of their life it has become increasingly harder to pay for this time! We are living longer and longer and have to work harder and harder to pay for the care needed. I don’t tell this to you all in a way to bring pessimism, but to alert us all in the true cost of long lives, and all this hard work and we get to the end, and we feel hopeless? That is not good news. In one of my old sociology books there was, and essay called Working Longer, Living Less: Understanding Marx Through the Workplace Today, in this essay he brings up a different side or cost of Capitalism. “Proponents of capitalism are hard-pressed to explain this pattern of growing inequality and polarization. Pundits often fall back on ‘psychologizing’ the problems (people are poor or unemployed because of some personal failing: lack of motivation, drug problem, reliance on welfare, etc.) or in “naturalizing” these ills by pronouncing them intransigent facts of human existence. The writings of Karl Marx, however, offer a different interpretation. Marx argued that under capitalism, workers must, by definition, lose economic ground as productivity and profits increase.” Whew, so to make our society go around we must work harder and lose ground for sake of profit. We have become cogs in the machine. Weber, would argue, that to say “Protestants caused capitalism would be too simplistic, as it’s not just about ideas, he also argues it’s about the circumstances, and Luther and the reformation made commerce safe for Christianity”. Weber brings us to a similar understanding that our historical capitalism spirit was “working to live” has now become “living to work”.
Leadership requires experience, years, maturity, wisdom. Many of the best leaders, and us future Doctors have gotten here because we have been through suffering and hardship. It’s getting through these situations that bring us the wisdom. Stephen Kalberg wrote a beautiful intro into the world of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and Max Weber. I was drawn into who we was as a man and cared about what he had to say because of what he had been through. He had “a significant incident occurred during a visit by his mother to his home in Heidelberg in the summer of 1897. Unexpectedly, Weber’s Father appeared and commenced a heated argument with his mother. The young Weber, who had passively witnessed his mother’s mistreatment for years, then evicted his father-who died seven weeks later. This configuration of events seems to have served as the catalyst for the paralyzing mental illness that afflicted Weber for more than five years”. Kahlberg goes on to explain how as he came out of this mental illness; this book was a large part of his recovery. It is often out of our most difficult moments that the most significant work comes out…. You! Get out there and be! That is the work!
 Schulz, Kathryn. Being Wrong; Adventures in the Margin of Error. (New York, HarperCollins, 2010). Pg 5
 Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. (New York, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011) pg 77.
 Walsh, John P and Anne Zacharias-Walsh. “Working Longer, Living Less: Understanding Marx through the Workplace Today” in Illuminating Social Life by Peter Kvisto (California, Pine Forge Press, 1998). Pg 110
 Shultz, Will. YouTube Why this text Matters about Max Webers the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. 2018
 Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. (New York, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011) pg 11.