by Joel Wallenberg
A Joint Westminster Quakers and Move Your Money Event, and Why You Should Consider Attending!
Many of us in the Society of Friends (and beyond) have felt a deep, gnawing sense of unease regarding recent trends in the world economy, and for many of us this feeling has grown into a profound spiritual discomfort. We have been seriously disturbed, both emotionally and financially, by the recent economic busts and general downturn. We have felt concerned about the large concentration of wealth and irresponsible debt in the financial sector, its increasing influence over so much of our day-to-day lives, and through it the richest 1 percent’s increasing control over the rest of us (helped by the political process, of course). Many of us have even felt something like a leading arising within us to do something about the growing inequality, though we have felt unsure where it was leading us to go.
In my own case, at least a part of this inner pull to action has crystallised, and led me to join the growing grassroots movement of Move Your Money UK (www.moveyourmoney.org.uk). Through moving our money out of the largest banks, we can simultaneously witness against the immoral activities of the financial sector and help effect change in the economy. Most importantly, moving our money from the largest banks to an ethical bank, mutual society, credit union, or peer-to-peer lending organisation is not simply a statement against something; it is positive statement in favour of a different way of dealing with money. It is a statement in favour of taking responsibility for where our money goes and what activities are done in our name, and it is a statement in favour of an emerging economy based on mutualism, voluntary economic association for mutual aid, rather than greediness. Through moving our money to financial institutions with particular types of ethical investment policies, we can also have a positive influence on other issues we might care about, such as a renewable energy economy (see joinmosiac.com, for just one interesting example). I won’t belabour the point too long here, though you may want to look at my previous article for more of my personal approach to the issue (http://www.nayler.org/?p=645).
Up to this point in time, Quakers have not been in the forefront of this socioeconomic movement, I am sad to say. But there is still time for us to use our considerable spirit-led energy and campaigning skills to help this new trend along, and bring the message of a new economy to more people. That is the goal of a joint event between Move Your Money UK and Westminster Quakers, which will be held on Wednesday 17/04/2013, at Westminster Meeting House (www.londonquakers.org.uk/events/move-your-money-joint-event-westminster-meeting). The event is appropriate to all levels of interest in the issue of banking and affecting the economy in a more Spirit-led way, providing an introduction and history of the Move Your Money movement, practical advice on where to move your money to and how to do so in the most painless way possible, and how Quakers might take a leadership role in future campaigning. I would strongly encourage all Friends in the London area with an interest in ethical banking to attend, whether you are just interested in finding out more, or interested in taking concrete steps to take the movement forward.
I dearly, dearly hope that the Society can show once again that it is relevant to current social justice movements, and that we are flexible enough that we are willing to be led into a new collaboration with other like-minded individuals outside of the Society. As George Lakey points out in numerous writings, our Society is most effective in promoting social justice when we form broad, cooperative campaigns with the broader community, and across class lines. I hope we can do it again, responding rapidly and fearlessly to changing social conditions, as we once did in the movement to abolish the slave trade.
(See also the recent piece in the Friend by one of the event’s chief organisers, Caro Humphries: http://thefriend.org/article/money-and-morality/)