Here at Just Atonement, we like exploring connections between things and other things. We appreciate highlighting the lines that, for example, explain why tariffs on imported steel might create financial struggles for Indiana soybean farmers, or how cuts to public education might generate profit increases for privately funded prisons.
We believe the old adage that everything is connected and everything matters. Though we’re aware that the sprawling network of links between small events and seismic global shifts aren’t always discernable to us, we know that they exist. And we leave our homes every morning believing that the moves and decisions we make will have an impact the world around us, even if the impact isn’t immediate and the links between each event and the next are not clearly mapped out.
It’s with this in mind that we respect one of the most powerful forces on earth and one of the primary drivers of both vibrance and decay, on both social and environmental levels: money. Money affects change. Money builds and destroys lives and empires, and financial resource distribution can shift the balance of almost any scale, even those that seem to be controlled by fate, human nature, or planetary physics. Money can make earth shift on its axis—not literally of course, but there are few events taking place on that turning earth that can’t be altered, fixed or broken by a shift in the river of money that waters every human ecosystem.
So here at Just Atonement, we keep an eye on personal and institutional financial trends that shape our landscape, from political donations to tax structures to funding for public resources that protect the public good. Here are two that are drawing our interest right now: the fate of the NRA, and personal investment decisions made in the wake of the 2016 election.
Child Separation at the Border and Personal Fund Reallocation
A growing number of ordinary citizens are looking for ways to protect vulnerable populations, methods that extend beyond protests and decisions in the voting booth. By taking a closer look at their 401Ks, mutual funds and retirement accounts, they’re identifying investments in companies that stand to profit from troubling policies like child incarceration. Many of these companies build and maintain private detention centers or provide administrative services or vendor contracts to agencies (Like ICE) that place and keep questionable policies in motion. By shifting funds from these investments and into others (including ETFs that feature only socially responsible businesses), engaged citizens amplify their voices and magnify their influence.
The Challenge of Becoming Uninsurable
There’s also been a recent suggestion that individual pressures—both personal and financial—can lead to institutional pressures, the way a small wheel turns a larger wheel. According to an article last week in Rolling Stone, the NRA appears to be approaching a state of financial distress, not simply due to a reduction in donations, but because public pressure has instilled caution in insurance providers, who are distancing themselves from an organization they’re beginning to see as financially toxic.
Regardless of the outcome of these pressures on the NRA (which may or may not survive its current crisis), there are lessons in this story for all of us. Everything we do matters. Everything we buy, sell, trade, or invest in, and every personal decision we make can alter what we see around us. Nothing stands still, even for a moment. No institution or corporate entity is fixed in place or as permanent as it may seem. Let’s keep this in mind as we step out the door and start another week in a turning world where even our smallest actions can make a difference.