Lately, I’ve been Challenged. Yes- capital ‘C’ type of challenge. It started with the rattling, continued on with a friend teasingly yet repeatedly calling me ‘crazy liberal’ for my viewpoints, reading a mentor of mine’s really insensitive Facebook post, being asked to help a college student whose dissertation is entirely opposed to the work I do and a challenging work issue. But, I was taking it, reflecting it, and bringing it all to prayer. I was working through it.
Then, I got a lovely email from my Dad at 7:15 yesterday morning with a link to a news article- “Whoa. Take a look at this. They slam your work”. Now if that isn’t the best kind of Monday morning email, I don’t know what is. Strong like coffee, but with a bitter taste of hate.
What is it that I do? I am a part of great, practical, systemic change work. I work for the religious, helping them advocate to the companies they own in their retirement and mission accounts. Therefore, in making decisions about these investments, the religious view local and global economies not just in terms of production and distribution, but also by their effects on the dignity of the human person as well as the environment. As shareholders, we speak to companies on a wide range of concerns- human rights, social justice issues, protection of God’s creation, and consideration of the poor. The religious want to ensure that the money they put into a company is used for good, not practices that are against what they believe in.
However, the world doesn’t love what I do. Tough. Or so I try to convince myself. But, I care. I care so deeply about the work that I do and the people that I’m trying to help. I want the companies that I’m working with to be part of a more just and sustainable world.
Frustrations abound. Some days, we are too ‘radical’ for our brothers and sisters in the institution that we have committed our lives to work for. Other days we are “sell outs” as we work with companies not against them, to try move them forward to better practices. We often stand apart from the majority.
Even though some may disagree with what I do, I can still grow from the trials: I’ll honor the rattling, appreciate the re-committment in me it brought. I’ll laugh with that friend as I tell her she is one of the reasons I have the views that I do. I’ll speak out for the injustices that I see. I’ll willingly help others, even when I disagree with their view points.
I am grateful for the trials, for I know that I’ll be challenged in whatever it is that I do. However, I believe that I will find myself in moving forward. I say ‘yes’ by continuing to act.