investment

Divest from Nuclear Weapons: Don't Bank On the Bomb

NUCLEAR WEAPONS are unacceptable weapons. By design, they aim to cause large-scale and long-term damage not only to enemy troops but to civilians as well.

Humanity has successfully banned and eliminated less devastating weapons, but curiously we have come to live with the idea that some countries are entitled to keep nuclear weapons. Worse, we have come to accept that their production is nothing to be ashamed of and that investing in these companies is sound financial practice.

Investing in genocide is inexcusable, and it is time we tell our banks, pension funds, and insurance companies to stop financing the bomb.

To that end, the Dutch peace organization PAX, for which I’m a senior researcher, produces an annual report called Don’t Bank on the Bomb, providing a detailed overview of financial institutions that invest in companies building nuclear weapons. But the report does more: It highlights positive examples of financial institutions actively divesting from nuclear weapons producers, showing that divestment is not only a feasible strategy but also a socially responsible and ethically sound way to watch over the money of clients. Divesting from nuclear weapons is not rocket science.

Campaigning for divestment helps to curtail and eliminate nuclear weapons in more than one way. First, it helps to further stigmatize nuclear weapons. Most people are unaware that their savings help to finance the bomb, and when this is pointed out to them, most people are uneasy or even appalled by the idea. By providing customers with the facts, we stimulate their readiness to take it up with their banks and pension funds and give them notice to divest from these inhumane weapons. This stigmatization of nuclear weapons is more important than we may think. No weapon has ever been eliminated before it was outlawed. And no weapon is outlawed without first becoming stigmatized.

Darn It!

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Money Talks: World Council of Churches Disinvests in Fossil Fuels

Svetlana Lukienko and Andriano/Shutterstock.com

Svetlana Lukienko and Andriano/Shutterstock.com

The Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United case infamously affirmed money spent in political campaigns as a form of free speech, thus declaring various legal limitations unconstitutional. The ruling gives a political megaphone to those with the most money and has been decried by many as contributing further to the nation’s political dysfunction and rigid polarization.  I strongly agree.

But this ruling came to mind again when I heard the news that the World Council of Churches, at its Central Committee meeting in early July, had made a decision not to invest in fossil fuel industries. In fact, money does talk. Where institutions place their invested funds is not a neutral, pragmatic matter. It speaks volumes.

Time to Change the Rules? Examining Our Relationship With Money

Jesus was quite clear that our allegiance was to be with the POOR, not the barons of Wall Street.

God's laws are immutable Gravity. Aging. Those sorts of things. We cannot change them. But we DO know that mere humans MADE UP the laws of the market economy and we don't have to follow its rules. We can choose to, but it’s a choice.

The rules that run our capitalistic system were invented by us. And we really do not have to play by those rules.

Seven Top Reads of 2013

Courtesy of the Generosity Network

Courtesy of the Generosity Network

The past few months have flown by in true whirlwind fashion (my co-worker Katie aptly describes the professional whirlwind here). And as the hours tick down to the end of 2013, I find myself facing a bit of a personal whirlwind, surrounded by boxes, bins and far more hangers of clothes than I’m happy to admit. I am thick in the middle of a move, in what I’m calling my boomerang return to D.C. and Sojourners, after a three-year hiatus in the great Northeast.

As I pack up all my belongings, it’s becoming clear that books dominate an absurd amount of bins and boxes — turns out I have a penchant for the printed word (if moving isn’t a compelling argument for a Kindle, I surely don’t know what is). Therefore, it feels appropriate and timely to reflect on which of these titles affected me most this past year. As the director of Major Gifts (and newest member of the team), I’ve been particularly consumed with thinking through resource distribution, stewardship, and the power of the purse, so it is with this lens that I share my top reads of 2013.

The Ikea Effect, Slow Church, and Laboring Our Way Into Love

Ikea photo: JuliusKielaitis / Shutterstock.com

Ikea photo: JuliusKielaitis / Shutterstock.com

A man buys two dogs to live with him in his apartment. They drive him and his neighbors crazy. They bark at all hours, get sick all over the place and cause rifts between him and his neighbors. And yet he insists that, despite the tremendous amount of work and inconvenience they present, he loves them.

So the question is: does he do all the work and put up with the nonsense because he loves them, or does he love them because he’s invested so much of himself in them?

Researchers looked at this question, particularly with regard to the wild popularity of the DIY furniture store, Ikea. Basically, you pay them to give you some furniture in a box that you have to take home and build. Sometimes you screw it up. Sometimes it takes a lot longer than you expected. Sometimes you scrape the skin off your knuckles and call the furniture names that would make your mother blush. In the end, if most of us assessed the value of our time against the money we’re saving by buying the furniture unassembled, it’s a net loss for us.

So why do we do it?

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