Money, inequality, justice and personal financial wellness

How do personal struggles with financial wellness meet the broader collective concerns with economic injustice?

When we work with clients who struggle with financial wellness, they tend to come with one of two common, cultural stories about money:

1)   Money is just energy, and you have to fix your mindset to have as much as you like. This story provides us with the hope of being able to fix our money problems and having as much as we want. But for those who struggle, this can make them feel guilty or worthless – what’s wrong with me and my mindset that I can’t pay the rent reliably?

2)   The other story is that money is bad, and it’s to avoid getting tangled up in economics of any kind. When this story is dominant, people may want to pay more income, but they feel the moral cost of that is so high they almost prefer poverty. It provides us with the consolation of feeling innocent.

These two stories do enormous damage. The first one disrespects the realities of income inequality and how that is structured in our society. The second story keeps us separate and struggling, perhaps morally superior, but not with any real answers.

After years of working with these issues, I have discovered a more honest, heart-felt, and ultimately hopeful story. It honors the reality of our shared culture and its inequalities. It remembers the experience of our ancestors being economically oppressed or oppressing others. It acknowledges that we have real human needs, and that there is nothing wrong with that. It consents to living fully here now, where we are, with each other, in the world as it is, rather than living in a fantasy. And, it finds real strength and hope in our collective values about the kind of world we’d prefer to live in. All of these elements make us more resilient, creative and resourced to experience what we would like with money, and the other kinds of wealth we are called to steward. It also strengthens us to be part of re-visioning society with the kind economic structures that would fairly provide all with enough, while preserving the planet.

This workshop will explore our present-day social context (including the distorted money culture in which we live) and ancestral inheritances (with its violations and losses) as a means to addressing our imbalance around wealth. It will be a combination of lecture, large group constellations and small group exercises, exploring both our personal history and our shared experience, leaving us all humbler and stronger.