In one of my CSR Series post that featured the topic of Prayers and Spirituality, an anonymous commenter offered a very enriching insight written below:
“Hi sir, nice blog post you have. I hope you don’t mind if I post a “what if” here. What if businesses are gearing towards spirit-driven consumption, just because the businesses recognize the power of religion, faith, or whatever that is synonymous to that, can further be used to boost their respective business? I mean, what if it is the focus of businesses lately because people are easily lured into manipulation when it comes to the name of whoever is their Higher Being?
I just want to share one of my experiences. I have been into one of worship centers by a certain Catholic group. The flow is plain and simple:
1. Start with a 1 hour mass
2. 30 minutes worth of worship songs, sharing of experiences by some worship leaders, telling people to lift their hands, do this do that.
3. The main speaker/worship leader arrives at the stage, delivering a very inspiring and educating seminar. It could be about finance, love, life, social responsibility. Anything that matches the season of the year or their chosen theme for the month.
4. They go back to a 15 minute worship, glorifying the Higher Being.
5. There goes the donation part. For the group’s financial projects so they can “spread the word, spread the good news”. And they will ask you to join the group, or join their elite donors who give 100k a month voluntarily.
6. Please return next Friday! You may go out now 😛
So in this flow, the people are driven by their religion, praising first, then will be inspired to donate, to “give more to others”. What if this flow is just to manipulate people to give money? What if the money they receive is 50% for themselves, 40% for their projects, 10% for charity?
What if religion, and faith in itself is just another business strategy, no longer a driving force to inspire and do our true purpose?
What if spirituality became an integral part of any organization in order to ease the pressure in making employees, or other people do what the organization wants to achieve, regardless of the intention?
What if religion, faith and/or spirituality is just a tool to earn money nowadays?
I just want to hear your insight on this one, nothing really personal. I’ve read some of your posts before and I find them very interesting. If I am out of the topic here, please pardon me. It just came into my interest to try and hear your opinion regarding this. Thank you and have a nice day :)”
This was my reply:
Sadly, there are indeed instances wherein some abuse the concept of religion and spirituality, and turn them into manipulative tools to lure people into what they want. Indeed, we cannot deny the fact that these kinds of things build reputation, and who wouldn’t want to build one’s reputation?
My key insight in the scenario you wrote is that the “audience” should be vigilant – though it is hard, one must look past superficial things and determine whether “spirituality” is authentic or just for show. I know that what I am writing is easier said than done, but that’s the way it is.
Kudos to the organizations that will indeed practice good governance, benevolent spirituality in the workplace, and spearhead sustainability-oriented activities not just because of reputation management, but because they indeed want to make positive change.
If I may refer to writings from the Bible, it is said there that even evil beings can quote from the Scriptures – even the malevolent can deceive by doing superficial good.
As such, from the Bible as well, we must be wise as serpents but harmless as doves. In my interpretation, this means being able to see things with open eyes, but not indulging in the dirt thus becoming harmless doves.
So in summary, what I want to say is this: we have eyes, we should just open them. We have the power to determine lies from truths. However hard it is, it does not mean that it is not possible. We should keep open eyes and minds, and remember that though the essence of spirituality and religion are good, malevolent people have the power to distort it in a way that will benefit the latter’s personal desires.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where even the seemingly most benevolent activities have malevolent ulterior motives. It is a challenge for us to be aware. Equipped with the Internet and free from the possible manipulations of biased mass media, we have the responsibility to question what we see, even if it is as fundamental as what we believe in. Because in the long run, this strengthens our faith, our core values.