*I realise I haven't written on Fukushima yet. A post on nuclear power is coming, one day...
**And who then does nothing about it. On this, as on many fronts, Obama has been deeply disappointing. I can't say I didn't warn myself.
So what can we do? We may not singlehandedly reform or overthrow the vested interests that created the mess, but we can live lives that point to another way. I have listed a few random suggestions, but would also love to hear more.
1. Repent of the love of money. Delight yourself in the goodness of God and open your eyes to the false promises made by wealth. Reject the idea that gaining more is at the heart of your identity or life, or ought to be at the heart of our political vision of life together. This one is foundational to all the others.
2. Reduce your debt. The apostle Paul tells us to "owe nothing to anyone" (Romans 13.8). The power of the banks is debt-fuelled, and never more so than in the last couple of decades. Perhaps there may be times when certain kinds of debt can be justified; but not when debt is used to fuel needless consumption, or goes beyond one's likely means to repay, or results in driving major life decisions ("I need to work long hours to pay off my mortgage"). For us, this has meant deliberately stepping off the property ladder and not using credit cards - almost everything is now paid in cash or, if we have to, then with a debit card.
3. Join the global movement calling for a Robin Hood Tax - also known as a Tobin tax, after the Nobel laureate who first suggested it forty years ago - that would place a tiny tax on financial transactions in order to make short-term speculative transactions less attractive. The money raised would ideally be earmarked for development aid and climate action, but the existence of the tax as a disincentive to rampart speculation is a distinct question and doesn't depend on where the money would be spent. This campaign is gaining significant traction in Europe, though relatively little in the US. The UK response is key as to whether it grows (and would likely pull in the US, if the previous link is correct) or stagnates. This point can be expanded to include supporting any other genuine attempts to reform the financial system.
4. Take your money from a big multinational bank and put it somewhere else, such as a local credit union or co-op bank. In the UK, try The Co-op Bank. I'd love to hear any recommendations in Australia, since we'd like to switch banks there too. Of course, not all banks are equally bad, but it is difficult to find a large multinational bank where your money won't be financing the arms trade, fossil fuel expansion, environmental degradation and so on.
5. As a church, let us not neglect to encourage, disciple and discipline our members who work in major financial institutions. I asked a while back whether Christians can be bankers, and my tongue was only slightly in cheek. Usury is condemned in scripture and throughout Christian tradition (until the last couple of centuries, when it has been redefined as lending at extortionate interest, rather than simply lending at interest). This is a large topic (and the subject of an upcoming post), but the church needs to ask these questions once more today, particularly in the context of the systemic abuses found in such enormous concentrations of power. When tax collectors asked John the Baptist "Teacher, what should we do?", he didn't tell them to quit their job, but gave the radical advice, "Collect no more than the amount proscribed for you" (Luke 3.12-23). What is the radical advice the church is to give our present day "tax collectors", that is, bankers?