One of the finest, most highly principled business men I have ever known was a senior manager in a life insurance company. He had come up through the ranks and spent most of his working time on managerial tasks, but he always budgeted some time for recruiting people to become life insurance sales persons. He said, "I am looking for people who will get 'the life insurance religion.'" By that, he meant people who could understand and appreciate fully that they were not merely selling a product; they were insuring families--especially young families--against financial hardship in the event of the untimely death of the family breadwinner. The "life insurance religion," although he was a devout Baptist, was his conviction, his faith in the fact, that protecting families from such potential hardship was a noble undertaking.
How many of us have the "pulp and paper religion?" By that, I mean the understanding--even the conviction--that making pulp and paper is a world-wide public service. The times, they are a-changing and they always will, but the world still needs paper. And it always will.
When I look about my office and my home, I see the daily morning newspaper that I read while enjoying my early morning coffee. I see books, books, books. I see a total of nine magazines to which my wife and I subscribe--six of them for me. I see several 500-sheet packs of paper waiting to be loaded into my printer/copier/fax machine. There are also varying size pads of note pads and paper. I even have a large map of Newfoundland and Labrador, bought for the trip we never took. And there is my big appointment calendar. The list goes on and on.
Without paper, I could not do what I do for a living, nor enjoy life nearly as much. But the importance of paper goes far, far beyond my small needs. Without paper, modern business and industry would simply be impossible. We hear and read a lot about oil production and prices, for the world runs on oil, we are told. But the world also runs on paper. We ought to remember and repeat that to ourselves and to the world out there.
Satisfying the world's need for many, many different kinds of paper is a gigantic public service. Letting that soak into your psyche can change the way you look at the product you make and its usefulness to the world. When you come to see it as not merely a product, but also as a much-needed service to society, then you will have the "pulp and paper religion."
Chuck Swann is the senior editor of Paperitalo Publications. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.