By Bonnie DiCarlo
We are all peacemakers as we live our lives. We each have our own journey, yet together, as members of the Thomas Merton Center, we are a force. The environment, labor, gun safety, transportation, capital punishment, political advocacy, anti-war actions -all are areas where we make a difference in our community and in the world.
But what about our personal savings and investments? Just as we make a difference with our activities, we can make a difference with our money!
I now take a moment to tell a personal story.
In 1984 I attended a financial planning conference in Boston. One of the workshops was presented by the Calvert Mutual Funds. They were the only family of funds I knew whose basis for investing was being socially responsible. I attended that session, along with about 15 other planners. I thought “Wow, this is pretty good. 15 people were willing to learn about being good stewards of their money, and the earth.” WRONG! Three of us were serious. The other 12 actually came to question and harass the speaker. They maintained there was no way you could make money without investing in tobacco, alcohol, guns and companies that polluted.
Now it’s 2018, and these doubters have been proven wrong year after year. It really is possible to be ‘peacemakers’ with your investments. Many companies now have socially responsible funds in their family of funds. In fact, teachers insisted that their retirement money could be invested responsibly, and they succeeded in adding socially responsible funds to their choices.
“Responsible investing” has many different meanings. Some mutual funds do not invest in oil companies, or companies that do not have women on their board of directors, or companies that pollute the environment, or companies that support the war machine, or companies that make dangerous toys for children. They will invest in companies that encourage their workers to be involved in the community, in companies that have a diverse workforce, in companies that pay their employees a living wage, and in companies that simply care about people.
Our own Wanda Guthrie, and her committee members, has been leading the discussion with the City of Pittsburgh, encouraging them to divest their monies from companies that invest in non-renewable energy.
The Thomas Merton Center board of directors has chosen to invest a portion of the Center’s reserve in socially responsible investments. This is what an organization should do – one whose Mission is to bring about understanding and change that leads to a peaceful existence for all.
Think about where YOUR money is invested. There are many good professional managers of money who take the future of this earth seriously. If you are interested in knowing more about being a peacemaker through your investments, call the Merton Center. They have helpful information, information that will guide you in making good decisions about how to invest your money.
We have a responsibility to be good stewards of the earth. Let’s begin to do that with our money as well as our actions.
Bonnie DiCarlo is a member of the Thomas Merton Center and serves on the Finance Committee.