The phone rang and Henry Rushing answered it, hoping the call would not delay his weekly trip to church services Sunday morning. The pastor of his Presbyterian Church was on the line. “Henry, you got to prepare yourself,” the cleric said in his most comforting voice. “There are demonstrators outside our building protesting. Their signs have your name on it, and they’re not too charitable with what they’re alleging.”
Henry hung up, remembering another call he got from one he called an Occupy Wall Street “thug” who threatened to publicize his stock holdings in a corporation the protestor said used child labor in Malaysia. Henry laughed it off and told the caller in no uncertain terms where she should go. Could she be following through on picketing his church? What in God’s name is the world coming to, he thought. Is no place sacred from these left-wing crazies?
There were seven young men and women with home-made signs walking in front of the main church entrance as Henry drove up, parked and quietly entered. The pastor greeted him along with several elders with long somber faces. They asked if Henry knew what was going on, and whether any of the messages on placards were true. Did the publicly-held company fire hundreds of American workers and replace them with thousands of low-wage laborers — many of them children under the age of 14 — to make profits?
Did Henry, of whom most members of his congregation now knew was a major stock-holder in the enterprise, know about this? Did he overlook the main teachings of his faith? “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”–Mark 8:36.
Could Henry make amends, by seeking changes from corporate leaders, they asked. Could the share-holders accept slightly less if it meant more Americans could obtain jobs here at home?
Well, don’t look for this scenario to occur any time soon, but wouldn’t it be great if those seeking economic and social justice today focus some of their attention on individuals who could instigate change? I mean those to whom the Wall Street corporations hold their allegiance to, their stock-holders. I’m sure many would agree that it is horrific for a few to live in luxury while so many — through no fault of their own — live lives of daily economic desperation.
What if someone could get information of those stock holders and ask them to voluntarily help their fellow-man, to assume a universal responsibility toward everyone? If they refused out of ignorance, an enterprising demonstrator (or two or six) could learn where they live, work, and what places they worship to remind them via picket signs why they should follow more closely the Bible, the Torah, the Quran, and/or the Book of Mormon. (For another view, see Catholic doctrine will be to the “left” of Wall Street financiers)
Why can’t corporations use a moral compass when seeking profits for ethical and moralistic share-holders? I bet you most would agree to earn less from investments if they knew some money would create jobs back at home, while the other portion of their capital went into global markets where lower salary pay-offs could gain them more.
I like to think the early followers of our greatest religious founders would do no less then espouse such revolutionary ideas.
About twenty years ago, a friend told me she and her husband had found a stock broker who only dealt in ethically run companies. When he contacted them, she explained, he’d have done his homework and would give them references should they want to do further research.
I was amazed that such a broker existed. I’m not sure how they found him, but her hub and she assured me that more and more people would be asking for this level of ethical investment advice.
At the time I had a few shares of an innocent-looking, dynamic little NZ company who was bringing some competition into Canada. When I looked into that wonderfully lucrative stock, I found it was the very pulp mill that was choking us with nasty outpourings into our air and our water. I sold the stock and championed the cause to stop the pollution.
That Company has taken major steps to stop the pollution. I don’t hear any more from the people who had the sensitivities and who began the campaign.
Ethics begin with us. We have to want them and be willing to take action because they are woven into our being.
You inspire me to research principles for a more compassionate corporation, Amy. I’d like to see a code of ethics voluntarily adopted world-wide where unethical (and immoral) firms could be reported to a “Better Business Bureau” run by a global “Angie’s List.” (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angie's_List
I wonder if our countries and captains of industry have gotten a little too cynical. We seem to be constantly showing up at China’s door with flowers in our hands, asking for more trade, when we know full well they don’t care about their workers, many of whom live in the factories so that they’re accessible to work for more hours in a day – something first world workers would not put up with.
And I think the highest profile company we would have to target first would be Apple. Steve Jobs berated Obama for not making conditions better in America so that he could do his manufacturing here. (Read: dismantle unions and allow for very low wages, as is the situation in China, where Apple products are produced).
Wouldn’t it be great to see the faces of those who enjoy the fruits of capitalism at the expense of the poorer toilers in the gardens?
Would they just call the police to remove the “rabble-rousers” carrying picket signs at their Temple, Synagogue, Mosque or Church? Or would they ask if there was not something they could do for others instead of themselves?
I think they would feel a whole lot better about themselves and the riches such an altruistic act could provide them.
Thank you Wolf!
Interesting you bring up the Book of Mormon. It’s overwhelmingly anti-materialistic (which you probably knew considering you brought it up). The irony is that Mormons are overwhelmingly Conservative in this country. I’m a Moderate, so I see value in both sides, but you would think that there would at least be a balance of left and right in the LDS church. Sadly, that is not the case.
I’m not sure what inspired me to include the Book of Mormon. Mitt Romney and Harry Reid, perhaps appearing in recent US headlines. I like to think of myself as one of many beliefs but attached in concrete to none.
Anti-materialism is what the Dalai Lama speaks about a lot. He wishes that he could be less materialistic, but finds it difficult to give up some of the expensive watches he owns despite the amount of money they could garner to help build huts somewhere in the world.
— michael j