Money is so intricately interwoven with every other aspect of our lives than when we take a stand to make a difference with our life, it has an organizing effect on our relationship with money, and when we take a stand to make a difference with our money, it has an organizing effect on every other part of our life. In an aggressive consumer culture like ours, where the financial worth of everyone and everything is the dominant theme, it takes some courage to stand for something different. There are many ways to break the silence and take action, but direct action with our money is one that is instantly available, personal, and powerful for each of us. Some of us may turn our attention to being more financially generous with organizations doing work that we want to support. Some of us may make a conscious effort to use our money more ethically, so we stop the flow of money toward those people and products that demean life. Some of us may devote ourselves to public service, or with our vote become advocates for socially responsible public spending by government on health, education, and safety. However we choose, we express ourselves in the way we send our money into the world, and with every dollar goes the energy, the imprimatur, of our intention. The mind-set of scarcity and the longing for "more" lose their grip, and we begin to make different choices. Money becomes a conduit, a way to express our highest ideals. Money becomes the currency of love and commitment, expressing the best of who you are, rather than a currency of consumption driven by emptiness and lack and the allure of external messages.
One of the great dynamics of money is that it grounds us, and when we put money behind our commitments it grounds them, too, making them real in the world. We can wish for better schools, a clean environment, and world peace; we can even volunteer, but when we also put our money behind those intentions, we become really serious about them. Money is a great translator of intention to reality, vision to fulfillment. When you live from a context of sufficiency and you take a stand for something, you open up your heart and the hearts of people in the world around you. Nobody thinks of Martin Luther King as a fund-raiser, but his stand for the rights of all people raised millions of dollars for civil rights work in this country. Mother Teresa raised tens of millions of dollars from people around the world who were moved by her to connect with their own longing to make a difference, and to make that statement with their money. This power is available to all of us; all people at all times in all sectors of society in all chapters of history. People with little or no money are just as capable of directing the flow of money and resources in meaningful ways as those with much more money. Purely in the act of taking a stand, they create the clearing and the context for conversation that invites others to step forward and be heard. I know that in my own life there have been times when I thought I didn't have enough of something to take even the first step toward making a difference in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes the "something" was money. Sometimes it was time, and sometimes it was the willingness to believe that I, myself, could have an effect.

Most of us think that freedom means to keep our options open, stay loose and available, and often that strategy does give you a little space temporarily. Eventually, though, keeping your options endlessly open becomes its own prison. You can never choose. You can never fall in love. You can never marry. You can never take the job. You can never really discover your destiny because you are afraid to commit fully.

If you look back on the experience of freedom in your life chances are that it wasn't when you were measuring the options against one another, or making sure you weren't getting stuck with a decision. It was when you were fully expressed, playing full out. It was when you chose fully and completely, when you knew you were in the place you were meant to be in, when perhaps you even felt a sense of destiny. That's when we're free and self-expressed, and joyful or at peace with circumstances-when we choose them. We bring that freedom to our relationship with money when we center ourselves in sufficiency, choose to appreciate the resources that are there, feel their flow through our life, and use them to make a difference.

This experience of aligning our money and soul is available to us every day in even the smallest or most mundane transactions with money, or other choices we make in daily life that lessen money's grip on us.

You don't have to change careers, revolutionize your business, or pack up your family and move away from anything or to anything to take a stand. You express your stand in the way your earn money, choosing work consistent with your values. You express your stand in the way you use money to provide food, clothing, shelter, or education for your family. It can be in the money you use to support others in your community or beyond, through food depositories, or shelters for battered women, troubled children, or homeless people. It can be in the money you use to empower your own creativity and self-expression, or otherwise nurture yourself through classes, books, or music. It can be in the money you pay for the products you buy, supporting the companies that produce them. It may be money you contribute to local, national, and global causes that inspire you, and the opportunity you offer others to do the same. If you are an employee, it can be the money you invest in the resources to make your workplace an expression of integrity, where employees and management have what they need to express their excellence.

Whatever the nature of your own call to action, I invite you to take a stand. Separate yourself from the prevailing drift, and use the opportunity that we each have to deepen our values and become more determined to live by them and articulate them. We each can speak for sufficiency as a way of living and relating to money and to each other. Whether you do it with a dollar or a million dollars, whether you are a Guatemalan peasant or an African farmer, a person of inherited wealth or a laundress, a lawyer, a factory worker, a doctor, an artist, a clerk, a baker, or a banker, you have the power with your money to break the silence that protects a destructive, scarcity-driven money culture and take a stand for higher human values. Money carries the power an intention we give it. Endow it with your stand. Empower it to change the dream. AN EXERCISE
Money Is Like Water: Know the Flow! If you want a clear picture of what your priorities are in life, who you are, what you care about, and what you stand for, look at your checkbook, your credit card bills and bank statement, and your spending habits. With every money transaction, you are allocating where you want your money to go, and this easy audit shows the flow. Maybe the money is going to children's education or to travel. Sometimes it's a fit with who you think you are, and other times it's just not. When it's not, there's an opportunity to re-examine how money flows in and out of your life and where you want to actively direct it.
1. What do you care most about in the world? Make a list - e.g., world peace, your children, your community, your garden, your political beliefs, etc. Now look at your checkbook or budget and credit card bills and see how much of your resources you devote to those commitments. 2. Now list the things that trap you: the things you crave, your weaknesses, things or activities that take you in a deadening direction instead of an enlightening direction. How much of your money is going to support activities that take you down or limit the possibilities of your life? 3. When was the last time you made a contribution that lit up your life? How much was it and what was the cause or person or project you were excited about? Did you share your excitement with other people? 4. When do you feel generous and why? When do you feel defensive about money and why? 5. What legacy are you creating right now with the way you use your money? Do your investments and personal spending support the world as you want it to be? Are you investing in people, products and projects that make the kind of difference you want to make? Follow your answers to these questions to discover where money and soul merge to nourish your life! Without a judgment of good or bad, when you know where you're spending, you can make conscious choices to align your spending with your beliefs and highest commitments. No matter how much or how little money runs through your life, you can channel it to fund what you care most about in the world. Consider the possibility of living more consistently with your true values as a financial template or expression of who you are and begin that process with a gentle, but sustainable commitment to aligning money and soul in everyday ways.
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