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Alfredo Gonzalez


Carrie Rogers-Whitehead

May 3, 2018

My Renaissance by Alfredo G. Gonzalez

Throughout the semester we were exposed to many different authors and many of the powerful ideas that

have shaped and molded civilization. We read extensively and delved into all aspects of human

development through the lens of business and commerce. It was fascinating to observe how the story of

the development of business is the story of the development of humanity, in terms of societies and of the

individual. The materials studied throughout the semester were broad in theoretical scope and ambitious

in their breadth of history; spanning from early civilizations such as the Sumerians and the Babylonians to

the second industrial revolution and beyond; even speculating about the future of business and

technology's role within it. It is always difficult with assignments of this nature to provide an insightful

and substantive answer without sounding false and disingenuous. The truth is that my personal

renaissance could hardly, if at all, be called a renaissance, and this class did not change my life in any

immediately evident or meaningful manner. It did however do a lot for me in other terms that I will go

over in this document and it also provided me with some much needed introspection.

Since the beginning of class back in January, every reading and class discussion provided me with a

unique and valuable opportunity to objectively question the materials provided and myself. It was

daunting at first, to finish a reading and sit back and think to myself "I disagree". Because, in doing so I

was disagreeing with some of the greatest minds in history. During class this was much easier because it
wasn’t Thorstein, Drucker, or Veblen I was disagreeing with but just another college student who, much

like myself, thought he or she had the answers to every one of the world's problems. On the other hand, it

was always pleasant to find within the readings a thought or idea that I strongly agreed with. On one

occasion I even found a reading that was an academic version of something I had long thought to myself

and had even shared with others during diatribe. I remember pointing this out to my partner and showing

her the uncanny parallelisms between my words and the words in the reading much to her surprise.

Digressing, one of the biggest contributions to me as a student from this class was the encouragement to

disagree. It is always easier, especially as a student to do or say what the teacher or your classmates want

to hear, this class encouraged us to think differently and taught me that it is ok to disagree, because we

were not graded on being agreeable but rather on choosing a position and then making cogent arguments

to defend it.

The Module that resonated with me the most was the one dealing with estranged labor, it contained the

readings by Karl Marx, Adam Smith, and Terkel's interview with LeFevre. I was familiar with many of

these ideas before, specially the works of Karl Marx, but reading it once more, paired with the

supplemental material of LeFevre's story and Adam Smith's almost prophetic writing, pushed me to

strongly question our modern capitalist society. Beyond that, it made me ask myself questions about what

I value and what is important to me with regards to work, career, and fulfillment in life. It brought back a

memory from two years ago, the first time I read Marx's theories on alienation of labor. I remember being

very touched by the fundamental principles of his writing that within a few days I decided to leave a job

where I often felt stuck, much like LeFevre, in lieu of something where I felt my work had more meaning.

Reading Module 8 and remembering my decision from years ago inspired by these same ideas, made me

think about what it is that I am doing today and how I feel about my work. This time, I did not feel a

sudden urge to quit my job to search for meaning, in fact the readings had the opposite effect and made

me want to do better and to do more in my current place of employment because I feel that my work is
valued and makes a real difference (however small that difference may be). This cemented in me the

notion that the concepts studied in this module and put to paper by those revered men are true, and that

my decision to leave a job two years ago because of them was the right move for me. In fact, many of the

readings in the class made me feel strongly about different things in my life. It was like a breath a fresh

air amidst the chaos and uncertainty of everything else when you are in your twenties.

As I continued to work and complete more and more of the class assignments, I began to realize that I

was, to some degree, acquainted with many of the authors of the documents provided in class. Some of

them I knew because of earlier college classes, others I knew through articles and personal curiosity, and

others I would find in my bookshelves. It became a common occurrence for me to come home after a

class discussion or after completing a homework assignment and find a book or two in my home library

by the author, about the author, a collection of similar materials and essays, and once even an Anthology

of the author's work. This makes more sense if I first explain that I have a severe hoarding problem when

it comes to books. I love books and although I say I never have enough time to read them, I very

consistently and vehemently add books to my home library; but not just any books, I like to collect

intellectual works, classic literature, assorted sacred texts, and basically anything that at any time was

considered dangerous thinking or that was banned. I enjoy books like the "The God Delusion" and "The

Moral Animal" material that sets out to question the everyday madness we have normalized. This has led

me to amass over 2,200 titles in my home collection, so finding works by Marx, Plato, H.G Wells, Adam

Smith, Aristotle, Darwin, D.H Lawrence, and even Ford and Carnegie was not very difficult.

It wasn’t long before this class transcended in a way few others have throughout my college career, the

reason is because it centered on the ideas taught by great leaders and scholars. It was not about

relationships between students and teachers or even bout the assignments themselves. It was about
understanding the foundation of modern business. Every student's takeaway was entirely up to him or her

and the amount of work they placed on truly understanding the materials, not just the words on the paper

(or screen) but the ideas they represent. This class made me question what it is about certain individual's

that drives them to create and inspire change? What precipitates a movement and what keeps it going?

Every kid with a college education says they want to "change the world", a noble pursuit, but oftentimes a

directionless, goalless, soundbite they repeat. What sets a SLCC apart from an expatriated Jewish German

philosopher whose writing laid the foundation that would inspire countless revolutions around the world

including the Russian Revolution? I can’t say this class had a cataclysmic effect on me or my worldview,

it would be a lie to do so, but what I can say is that it inspired me to think differently, it increased my

appetite for knowledge, and it taught me to seek out the best ideas that people have to offer; in the end,

you never know which one of these ideas is going to truly change the world and when this happens I

don’t want to miss it, I want to be a part of that, a part of the future. I truly, deep down feel like I came out

of this course a better person, I feel more enlightened, and I now know that powerful ideas are out there,

hidden in books, videos, manuscripts, essays, and so on; I just have to go find them, in fact it is my

responsibility to seek them out, and for this new ambition, I am thankful.