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Joel Solomon: The Clean Money Revolution: Financial Wealth and the Inner Life

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Nuggets From Joel Solomon's Call

Last Saturday, we had the privilege of hosting Awakin Call with Joel Solomon.

“Why not have money be more life-giving? Let’s use our money to create conditions for more hope, inspiration, and love, because beneath it all, love is the true nutrient.” Joel Solomon is founding partner of Canada’s largest mission venture capital firm, which delivers above-market returns while investing in companies that catalyze positive social and environmental change. "I believe that we’re on a massive renewal in how we understand money,” he says. "No matter how much or how little each of us has, what we do with it is somewhere an expression of what we care about and our beliefs about the world." Joel believes in investing in companies and communities dedicated to solving the key economic, environmental, and social issues of our time. He is the co-author of The Clean Money Revolution, calling for the reinvention of power, purpose, and capitalism.

Below are some of the nuggets from the call that stood out for me ...

  • I grew up in the 1950s in the American South, in Tennessee, at a time of great turbulence, with all the issues of race, religion, and gender that were very much present. The journey from where the world was then to where it is now was one of the most dramatic in history.
  • My family, of Eastern Europe Jewish immigrants, was always involved in their faith community. It seemed that if you were not part of the social main stream, it was good to be connected with your own community, with the ideals of faith, decency and service that were part of our community life.
  • The religious and cultural divides in the Jim Crow South were quite divisive, so volunteering in causes greater than ourselves, was a way of connecting and participating in the larger society. It was part of my family ethic.
  • I wound up working with the Jimmy Carter presidential campaign and traveling around the country. This opened doors for me to a larger world.
  • Being involved in helping to determine the leadership in a local community, and on the national level, has a very, very, large impact on life. We live in a system that pushes us into many moral and ethical and spiritual questions -- that is very much influenced by who the leadership is. To ignore politics is to walk away from helping to influence the quality of our lives. If we don't get involved and do the best we can, then others will decide how the world is working.
  • We all have to face the question of the meaning of life, to understand what this life is all about. What are we supposed to do? We live in a system that has become dominated by money and wealth. The market system has pushed us onto a measuring stick. It takes a lot to separate our sense of self from that. As I grew up, I felt that money had become "God" for many people.
  • I came to an idea in that turbulent period of capitalism: having the money you need, to take care of yourself and your family, doesn't have to be exploitive. Money is actually morally neutral. Money is a way to extract resources, either from human labor or from the planet. As a young person, I came to see that the deeply considered positive use of money can actually be a spiritual practice. And I got exposed to people who were working on ways to use business as a tool to do good in the world.
  • “The drive for security does not have to mean that you become exploitative, extractive and ruthless. Money, business and finance could be, and I think ultimately are, fairly neutral substances or circumstances or constructs. They can be used to do very important, positive and good things in life.”
  • “I think that money is embodied spirit. I believe that money has our name on it. That how we get it; what we do with it while we have it; where we put it; what we are invested in -- is actually our direct responsibility.”
  • If I choose to separate myself from awareness about my money, if invest wrongly, I could be causing damage to other people -- which would horrify me if I were paying attention.
  • “I believe it's time for a spiritual evolution around this that understands just how sacred this substance is and what it represents and to become aware of the responsibility that we have to use it wisely and for peaceful and compassionate purposes, especially once we have our own security and survival and basic needs met.”
  • So as a caring and responsible person, I have no choice but to take responsibility for what my money is doing. If I have a stock market portfolio, and care for nothing more than how much money it is making, then I'm part of causing the suffering in this world.
  • We need to treat money as sacred energy that can make a difference for a world of compassion and decency for all people.
  • The rules get written by those who have the power to influence the rules. This point of view caused me to become a fanatical “do-gooder.”
  • I believe we all have a responsibility to do what we can to move the system toward a more a fair distribution of wealth.
  • I believe there is an intersection of the inner and the outer even in the crass world of money, business and accumulation.
  • Business and finance can be a tool to represent our best values. “How do we do a compassionate capitalism? How do we have an economy that works for more people? How is it that we can have massive wealth on the planet and have it distributed so poorly to the few and create lives of suffering and challenge and deep anxiety and stress for the many, and continue to push the system towards more and more of that imbalance? Business and finance could be a tool to represent our highest, deepest, best qualities.”
  • We must find deeper and more potent ways to look after the long-term future. It's time for the next level of spiritual evolution -- to take it all the way to the mundane daily activities that we spend most of our time engaging in.
  • Finding a way to stay in touch with joy, to be joyous, is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to the world.
  • We make choices all day, every day, that make a difference in the world we are helping to create.
  • The greatest responsibility of being alive is to see to it that future generations will have the ability to enjoy the same, or better, quality of life that we have had.
  • “There's not a simple answer to a lot of things in life. And we don't really have an easy guidebook. We lived in simpler times at one point where we went to our place of worship and we got told how to behave and how to be a good person. And that's broken apart now, with the complexity level, and the severity of what's happening - where we're actually changing the geology of the planet through our activities. And we may have to look in the eyes of our grandchildren, and explain to them why they are inheriting a world where there was so much plenty, and so much success, and now it appears that it may be collapsing upon its own success.”
  • “We can each find our own pathway of maximum contribution to the long-term well-being of this beautiful creation. And if we remember that we are ancestors of what's coming in the future, and if we can think from our deathbed from time to time as a practice to check ourselves and see if we're doing the best we can -- we're not going to be perfect, but we can be better and we can do better.  And those of us that have enough wealth and material-plane benefits, becoming billionaires, so to speak as a metaphor -- let's become billionaires of good deeds. Let's become billionaires of love of the future. Take care of whatever needs we believe are necessary for survival and well-being, but let's be sure that our contribution is the best that it can possibly be.”
Lots of gratitude to Joel Solomon, to Birju, and all the behind-the-scenes volunteers that made this call happen!


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