Give Credit to Credit Unions

Give Credit to Credit Unions

ENGLISH insurance labelHere’s a short article about the financial health of Credit Unions – which are small, locally owned and managed by members, not for profit Financial Institutions.  Mollie Bell (quoted in the article) and I worked together at CUNA Mutual group which supports the Credit Union Movement.  It is my opinion that all of us should shift our financial dealings from Banks to Credit Unions. Do you agree?  What would happen if people moved away from Banks and towards Credit Unions?

The Banks would probably become even more aggressive in their ongoing efforts to undermine Credit Unions. Their lobby is huge and powerful, and it has been causing legislative pressure against Credit Unions for decades.  But Credit Unions would benefit from  awareness on the part of consumer that they represent a fundamentally different option.  Even a relatively small number of new customers can represent significant growth for these small, local entities, and local communities benefit from local control of financial systems.

Selling OutWhy doesn’t shifting from Banks to Credit Unions get more attention? Is it because corporate interests own too many pieces of our soul – shifting our thinking and decisions away from our own best interest? What can we do in response?

One area of focus is to buy local.  Purchasing local products, including financial products, is a way to make a major contribution to sustainable local economies.

The virtue I drew through which to look at this topic was Peacefulness. Inner calm, tranquility, a sense of harmony with all creation. In reflecting on how that applies here, I realize that participating in a for profit financial institution increases the antagonism and animosity that goes along with our competitive profit-driven age. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a communist – I believe in ownership and that everyone should benefit from their labors. Everyone should profit from applying themselves diligently to whatever craft or trade they have chosen.

peacefulness_by_vitavalian-d7r74n1But Credit Unions help us see that cooperative models are useful and powerful in counteracting the unsustainable aggregation of wealth exemplified by mega banks and “Too Big to Fail” institutions. We can go on the warpath against them, or perhaps simply moving our business to a Credit Union is enough to reverse the trend.  It is certainly a peaceful way to contribute to a change in the dynamic between the extremely wealthy and those who struggle to achieve a stable middle-class income.

Dancing to the Doomsday Clock

Dancing to the Doomsday Clock

Doomsday ClockToday I read that the Doomsday Clock has moved forward two minutes.

Yet the transcript of President Obama’s State of the Union address from earlier this week was effusively positive.  He declared “The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.” and that “we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.” He warns against being “fearful and reactive” and “dragged into costly conflicts”.

Is the glass half full or half empty?  And regardless of your perspective being full-of-hope or fearful, what decisions should we be making / what actions should we be taking with regard to the challenges we face?

As I do every blog, I’m going to now pull a Virtues Card to provide a lens by which to frame my own response to these questions.  In case you wondered, I’m not lobbing myself softballs with this approach as indicated by today’s pick – Idealism. “Idealism is having a vision of what is possible and wanting to make a difference. It is caring passionately about what is meaningful in life. Idealists see things as they could be and have faith in the power of change.”

glass half full emptyThis leans in the direction of the President vs. Doomsday Clock watchers confirming my perspective. Despite very real reasons to agree with the folks who moved the clock forward viewing the glass as half full is the right choice. That perspective points us in the right direction. But wait.  The card quote continues…

“We put our principles into practice. We don’t just accept the way things are.” and it concludes “Idealists do something to make things better. We make the ideal real.”

This is where I diverge sharply from the President’s narrative. What he calls “reactive” I call “necessary”. We can’t wish away the conflicts. If we are freer than any other nation on earth to write our own future, we must reverse the course he has chosen internationally, which is to withdraw and let the bullies and the bad actors have their way in large areas of the world. We must stop them raping and pillaging our fellow global citizens.

He, for example, believes we acted appropriately by essentially not acting when Russia annexed part of Ukraine.  But we promised Ukraine that we would protect them in exchange for giving up their nuclear weapons. Shame, shame, shame on us for abandoning them in their hour of need. This is just one example of where my view on the volume in the glass of America’s current President on international matters is decidedly shy of half-full.

Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones

For leaders to inspire with idealism they must lead in the direction they want people to move. Withdrawing into our own echo-chamber and patting ourselves on the back about our idealism is not the real thing. Idealism not only envisions rosy outcomes, it requires making touch choices, and having the courage and commitment to follow through on them.

Virtues – Attributes of God

Virtues – Attributes of God

This blog is a response to recent opposition from within the context of Religion to my support of The Virtues Project.  The reason given was that The Virtues Project tells the lie that people don’t need God to attain virtues. To those active in The Virtues Project, this is absurd, so let’s set the record straight.

The Virtues Project was started by Bahai’s, members of the small, but growing global Religion of which I am a part.  The Founders describe its origin as follows: “Tapping into Dan’s years of research in the world’s sacred traditions, they had an “Aha! Moment”. They discovered that virtues are at the heart of meaning in every culture and belief system, from indigenous oral traditions to the world’s Sacred texts.”

Virtues - Attributes of GodThe Family Virtues Guide published by the founders of The Virtues Project in 1997 is even more direct.  The preface explains that The Virtues Project does “not promote the practices or beliefs of any particular faith”. Yet it equally clearly asserts that “Virtues are described as the qualities of the soul and the attributes of God. They are the means by which we can reflect the image and likeness of the creator.”

So what to do about attacks against a noble effort to assist humanity in the nurturing of the nascent virtues within us all, our heritage as Children of God?  To assist in gathering my thoughts, I pulled a random virtue card for inspiration, and it was Purity’s turn. I’ll quote from the card:

“Purity is living in a state of physical and spiritual health… We free ourselves day by day from unwanted influences… We replace negativity with virtuous practices… Purity gives us a clear conscience and a peaceful soul.” It offers “I act from pure intentions” as an affirmation.

IThe virtue of Purity am  convinced of the purity of intent in the founders and the bulk of those participating in The Virtues Project.  For those who put a relationship with God first and foremost, fully recognizing God as the source of all virtues, there is no doubt that The Virtues Project enables others to draw nearer to God.

This is true regardless of what the distance is at which we find ourselves from God at any given moment.  Which is why leading with virtues is a powerful way to lead people to God. More powerful, I might add, than forcing our conception of God upon others.

I’ll end this Blog with the quote at the end of the card.

“I am thankful fore the gift of Purity.  It gives me a fresh start.”

 

 

 

Islamic State Has No Dignity

Islamic State Has No Dignity

Flag_of_the_Islamic_State_of_Iraq_and_the_LevantI just read a most fascinating article by Nadim Shehadi which answers a question that comes to my Western mind with regard to the Islamic State (ISIS, or ISIL).  The article states “Islamic State has been described as a virtual entity, its visibility a product of a sophisticated media strategy designed to make it seem like the fount of all evil.” My immediate reaction to this is “Why?”  Why choose a path of such obvious offense?  The article answers this, using history and regional legal practice.

But it doesn’t for one second diminish the horror of what is occurring, nor, for those who see beyond and behind today’s headlines, does it do anything to diminish the ominous nature of the gathering global thunderclouds.  A global polarization is occurring, one that is so dramatic it threatens to reverse the polarity of the planet, turning everything upside down.  At its center is the tiny nation of Israel.

Israel is the primary focal point of an intolerant fundamentalist hatred that has come to permeate much of the Islamic World.  Supporters of Israel, such as the United States, are caught in the dragnet.  Labels like “The Great Satan” are applied not only for supporting Israel, but also for representing a different civilization, a different way of life. Support for Israel is a topic for other blogs, as is the soulless materialism and hypocrisy of the West, all catalysts of Islamic antipathy.  But while two wrongs do not make a right, there are degrees of wrong.  Just as there are degrees of, dare I say the word… Evil!

Seeing Evil for what it is

See evil for what it is.

I use Virtues to filter my thoughts now and for this blog I randomly selected Dignity.  The card I pulled calls Dignity “a sense of worthiness and respect.  It comes from remembering who we truly are and our purpose for being.”  Dignity requires us to stand up for what is right and true, for the good of ourselves and those who are behaving in ways that destroy Dignity.

I’ll leave you with the request to read the article that inspired this one and reflect on how an inherent deception, the desire to “establish” legitimacy by covert, and vicious means, is anything but dignified.  Millions are impressed, and inflamed with adoration and emulation for an entity that establishes itself by mounting a propaganda campaign that appeals to the most base and destructive urges of friend and foe alike.  This is destined to cause irreparable damage.

We’ve seen this movie before. We cannot follow the example of Neville Chamberlain.

We, as a species, must oppose Evil.  We, as a species, must find a means to stop it.

Not in reaction.  Not in anger.  But with Dignity.

Before the havoc it wreaks can grow to unstoppable proportions.