Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Letting your money speak

Parker Palmer

In his book Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer discusses the importance of remaining true to inner leadings and convictions in discerning the path of one's career. As his guide for the book, he focuses on the old Quaker adage that he uses as his title.

Vocation, though, is only one component of how you witness to that which you believe, as I am sure Palmer would agree. That's where the title of this blog comes in. Regardless of how many assets you have, when you use those assets you are contributing to certain goals as opposed to others. While there are many sites that discuss the implications of our day-to-day buying decisions, though, few seem to adequately address the ethical implications of our investments from a consistent moral framework. My hope is that we can begin to do that important work here.

Before we get too far, though, it might be worth spending a bit more time with Palmer. One important Quaker principle is "that of God in every one." This ties in with his reflections on letting your life speak. Rather than coming up with an abstract moral code and applying it uniformly to your life and the lives of others, he comes to see that letting your life speak involves listening to what that life is saying and allowing your understanding to emerge in part from your experience. Here's a short excerpt from the book:

"My youthful understanding of 'Let your life speak' led me to conjure up the highest values I could imagine and then try to conform my life to them. There may be moments in life when we are so unformed that we need to use values like an exoskeleton to keep us from collapsing. But something is very wrong if such moments recur often in adulthood. Trying to live by an abstract norm, will invariably fail--and may even do great damage.

"Today, some thirty years later, 'Let life speak' means something else to me, a meaning faithful both to the ambiguity of those words and to the complexity of my own experience: 'Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you.'"

This is an important lesson to keep in mind as we begin this project. Ideally, there will be room to listen to the voices of economic theory and Quaker history and practice as well as the voice that emerges from within our own lives.

Below are some helpful links that may serve as good entryways into this journey:

What is SRI?
- Part I: General definition
- Part II: Screening
- Part III: Shareholder advocacy
- Part IV: Community development
- Part V: Microfinance

The Quaker origins of SRI

What are the Quaker testimonies?

No comments: