Some tasks seem to take a long time to get started. Doing dishes, weeding the garden, and paying bills come to mind. Once I’ve finally gotten going, I wonder why they ever seemed like a big deal. Divesting my family’s bank accounts from fossil fuels was like that.
Few people need to be reminded that the past year and a half have been particularly tough for the entire human community. A seemingly unending stream of crises have made exhaustion, confusion, and anger all too commonplace. At times, it feels like the best we can do is simply hunker down and ride out the storm. However, as the storm gets worse, even that strategy doesn’t work so well.
Dear Friends: Thanks to Shelly Tanenbaum, Kathy Barnhart, and Rick Herbert for their Western Friend article (Jan/Feb 2021) on their role in encouraging University of California’s divestment from fossil fuel companies. I appreciate their Quaker modesty about their role and about what divestment can do. By itself, divestment cannot bring Exxon, Chevron, Shell,
Shelley’s Story: Imagine a billion dollars being taken out of fossil fuel development and more than a billion being put into renewable energy. This is exactly what the University of California (UC) did in 2020. What did it take for UC to divest from fossil fuels in such a big way?
William Penn became a Quaker in 1666, and immediately realized he had a problem. He was a member of the court of King Charles II. As a courtier, he was expected to wear a sword; as a Quaker, he had abjured the sword’s use. What to do? Legend says that he approached George Fox with this conundrum, and Fox cut through it with a simple test: Wear thy sword as long as thou canst.