October 2, 2001, 12:00 AM

What We Must Do

We must rededicate ourselves to running and investing in our businesses, driven not, as before, by the desire for Internet wealth but motivated by a desire to make things better in America, to make our economy stronger.

In the wake of the despicable and savage attacks on America on September 11, it is impossible to return to life as we knew it. It is difficult to focus on those things we are accustomed to doing. Difficult for us to publish this magazine. Difficult for you to operate stores, distribute catalogs, market web sites, and provide Internet services.

What we do as individuals is now completely subordinated to what we must do as a nation. Nothing can take precedence over defending our freedoms and democratic way of life, because they are threatened now every bit as much as they were when our country was last attacked 60 years ago. If small, well-coordinated and widely dispersed groups of irreligious militarists can take down two shining symbols of our economic might and strike at the core of our military, they can perform other unimaginable acts of evil. They have the intent, the resources and the determination to sacrifice themselves for their misguided cause.

Brave souls among us have already responded to this tragedy. Some of them have made the supreme sacrifice, and many others will now be called upon to put themselves in harm’s way. But what is the proper role for the rest of us, for those not directly responsible for the defense of this great country? It seems to me that if we look to the generation of Americans who reached adulthood in the 1930s and 1940s-our parents and grandparents-we will find the role models that will show us how we must conduct ourselves today.

We must have their patriotism, their sense of community, their unity of purpose, and their unflinching support for a cause that transcends self and requires extreme self sacrifice. We must have the quiet nobility of George Bailey-give blood, conduct charitable events, volunteer. We must be kinder to one another.

And we must rededicate ourselves to running and investing in our businesses, driven not, as before, by the desire for Internet wealth but motivated by a desire to make things better in America, to make our economy stronger. Wars are not won on the battlefield alone. They are also won in the factories and offices and stores. We must continue to take economic risks, think creatively, work extremely hard, look long-term, quit worrying about our 401K portfolios, and realize that each and every one of us has a vital role to play in winning a war that was so brutally thrust upon us on a bright and beautiful September morning. We cannot look to someone else to fight this war for us. This is a war all of us must work to win.

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