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.

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.

 

 

The Virtues Project

The Virtues Project

Last weekend my wife and I attended a two-day Virtues Workshop conducted by Valerie Hess and Terry Rahn of Virtues Village.

Terry Rahn

Terry Rahn

Valerie Hess

Valerie Hess

These two ladies are both Master Facilitators in the Virtues Project, a global grass roots effort.  I’ve been impressed with how effectively The Virtues Project challenges soulless materialism and secularism.  These weeds have sprung forth from the toxic soil of corrupt religion, leaving us modern folks who seek a higher path stuck between a rock and a hard place.  You may wish to check out  my prior blog on Virtues for more on the challenges facing society.  Today I’d like to briefly share what my family is doing to engage with and support the Virtues Project.

The Virtues Project provides what we believe to be the best solution to the conundrum described above.  Today’s families need a clear strategy on inoculating against the infections which run rampant in our societies.  Not only is it impossible to implement a quarantine, isolationism creates its own problems.  The Virtues Project provides not only protection, but a means through which we may safely, and with peace of mind, integrate our families into the broader culture.

Franssons Fall 2014 standingHere’s what we’re doing.  We’re hosting an Essential Family Virtues Program in our home again this year.  The workshop has empowered us to accompany the 10 participating families more effectively.  We are also stepping up our focus in other areas of our life on a daily basis.

This morning at breakfast we randomly selected Virtues Cards for each of us in the family.  Zoe grabbed Modesty, Caleb Truthfulness, Angela Thankfulness, and I pulled Excellence.  Each of us read the affirmation on our card out loud and agreed to help each other apply our our selected virtue today, while acknowledging the benefits we will accrue as individuals and as a family.  By nurturing these nascent qualities, we cause the seeds within us to sprout, grow, and bear fruit.  We’ve posted these cards on our fridge.  Now each time we reach for nutrition for our bodies we’ll also be reminded that we must nurture our souls.

And in each blog going forward, I’ll be incorporating a virtue, to provide the focus of excellence I committed to today.  I hope you will join us in the amazing process of planting these high quality seeds into your own soil wherever you live, to start the process of reversing the toxicity that has crept into our local lives.

Please comment, or send an email to Virtues@SOOPLLC.com to share, connect and engage further. The_Virtues_Project_banner_image

 

1 Percent Now Own 50 Percent

1 Percent Now Own 50 Percent

The Occupy movement emphasizes the enormous gulf between owners – typified by the so-called 1% – and those who are struggling to make a living as wage-slaves or worse. The headline chart for this blog highlights that we’re approaching Great Depression levels of wealth inequality, in which 1% of Americans own 30% of its wealth.  But an article published Tuesday states that globally things are much worse.  50% of the world’s wealth is owned by 1%, which got me thinking.

Emma Lazarus The New ColossusUS style capitalism is no villain. Principles of pragmatic egalitarianism are the foundation of this country, and its success is due to the fact that their implementation has led to shared success on a scale previously thought impossible. Emma Lazarus’ Sonnet The New Colossuswhich graces the Statue of Liberty, sums this up nicely.

The successful creation of a middle class of millions of people generally wealthier than many kings of old drives a sustained global prosperity the likes of which the world has never seen. This is but one reason I’ve resisted a basic premise of the Occupy Movement.  To claim the right to share that which someone else owns is a recipe for unmitigated disaster.  Human misery will spread like a virulent disease when such thinking takes hold.  Nor is there, even with these horrible wealth distribution ratios, a need to radically implement policies based on such wrongheaded “humanitarianism”.

The path to prosperity will never come from trying to occupy that which you do not own.  Rather it will come from taking ownership (in the full sense of that word) of that which we already possess.  Given the democratic institutions which exist, and the tools that enable human ingenuity to work its magic, when people take ownership of their situation they can revitalize our nations, including this one.  Ownership means tapping into the spirit which pioneered and grew new models of human activity, benefiting the masses in ways previously thought unthinkable.

Take Full OwnershipEarlier this year I was honored to present on the topic of The Human Heart of Business to a distinguished audience at a series of conferences in India.  In those conferences I addressed what I believe to be both the problems and the solutions to the conundrum of wealth distribution.  India is in many ways a pioneer in the idea of corporations taking full social responsibility.  It was an inspiring 5 days, in a country that suffers under wealth inequality that is staggering to the Western mind.  And yet the average Indian is hopeful and optimistic that things can be improved.  And they are improving rapidly.

We can make a shift towards a more equitable distribution of wealth without jumping on a wealth re-distribution bandwagon.  And yet I believe we must get very serious about this, very quickly.  If we don’t begin to turn the ship on this and other major problems confronting mankind, we’ll be hitting a global iceberg soon – and we’ll experience the kind of global revolution that will make the French Revolution look like a cakewalk in comparison.

There are many models being put forward globally today in which corporations are extending the idea of who the stakeholders are, to which they owe responsibility to “maximize shareholder value”.  There are many places where you can apply yourself to making a difference.  One tiny example is this group I found on LinkedIn which has the audacious intent of Building Better Societies.

What examples have you found?