Sometimes Heroes Wear Suits

“Entrepreneurs are the heroes of our world.  Despite the risks, the hard work, the hostility from society, the envy from neighbors, and state regulations, they keep on creating, they keep on producing and trading.  Without them, nothing would be there.”[i] —Johan Norberg

A fireman rushes into a burning building, with little thought of his own well being, and rescues a person he doesn’t even know.  We call that fireman a hero (as we should).  Our hero, the fireman, is willing to endure great personal risk in order to help someone else.

Can we make the case that our local entrepreneurs—those who take on great personal risk to create profit-making enterprises—should also be considered heroes?  I recently saw this quotation and thought perhaps the answer is, “Yes.”

“New Bedford is a queer place.  Had it not been for us whalemen, that tract of land would this day perhaps have been in as howling condition as the coast of Labrador….Yes; all these brave houses and flowery gardens came from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.  One and all, they were harpooned and dragged up hither from the bottom of the sea.”  (From Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, [1851])

Herman Melville seems to be saying that the “fineries” of his day (in New Bedford) came about through the business enterprise of whaling.

My argument is that all business people, whether they suffer the rigors of the North Atlantic on a whaling vessel or not, face uncertainty and “danger” in order to produce potential rewards—financial and otherwise—and that these rewards can be, and most often are, shared with many people.  In that sense (enduring personal danger for the good of others), might we call them heroes?

And what if we defined a hero as follows?

  • A hero is someone who gives his/her life to something bigger than oneself (1 Cor 13:13).
  • A hero is a person who acts in a way that benefits the greater good of society (Jer 29:5-7).
  • Positive change follows in the wake of a hero (Lk 6:43-45).
  • A hero is defined by action, not by potential (1 Jn 3:16-18).

Going back to Moby Dick and New Bedford, I imagine there were many people who had dreams of seeing “brave houses” built; yet, someone had to take the risk to invest in equipment, ships, and labor—to meet the needs of customers in such a way as to “benefit the greater good” of New Bedford.

That person was a person of business.  Sounds like a hero to me.  And they are all around us.  Be sure to thank them.

  1. When you look around you—when taking notice of the food that is set on your table, goods that are in your clothes closet and in the cabinets of your home, and the services you utilize on a daily, weekly, monthly basis—reflect upon your reliance on the entrepreneurial spirit of others.
  1. Consider how you might show your support of entrepreneurial heroes in your locale.

[i] Norberg, J. (2015). Entrepreneurs are the heroes of the world. Cato’s Letter. Retrieved from (p. 3)

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