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Vivian Norris Headshot

Restoring Trust Is the First Step Forward to Heal from the Financial Crisis

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Why did I vote for President Obama? I trusted him, and I still do. Why do so many Americans want Elizabeth Warren in a position of power and financial decision-making? Because they trust her to tell them the truth and do right by them. Why is the Banker to the Poor, Muhammad Yunus (who earns around 400 euros per month) trusted by millions around the world, yet the CEOs, CFOs and Presidents of major financial institutions are not only not trusted, they are despised? It all comes down to trust. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. And I don't want to be fooled again. Neither do 300 million Americans. Neither does much of the rest of the world.

In other words, we are over these guys in suits with their private jets and trophy wives. We are over the tennis buddy behind the scenes deal making insider information trading buying our politicians and leaving us with the bill and our president with a mess to clean up...it stops now.

Ironically, the very word for "credit" credire...means to believe in or trust. Trust is behind the entire concept of banking. What do the poorest of the poor in Muhammad Yunus Microcredit world and the wealthiest financial institutions have in common? Access to credit with no collateral to back up the loans. Yet the poorest of the poor in the Grameen Bank world pay back at rates as high as 99%. Those big banks not only did not pay back, they took from us and paid themselves bonuses. Hmmm...guess they aren't very good bankers are they? Because they have destroyed the very trust they need to get us to give them our money, invest it and give us something back. It feels like they are, well, stealing our money doesn't it?

Perhaps the reason there is still trust in Dr Yunus' world is because 98% of the poorest of the poor Grameen borrowers who are trying to make better lives for themselves and their children are women? Yunus noticed that women paid back better than the men, and used the money and profits from their small businesses to help their families so he focused on loaning to them. It is looking like most of the mess in the Western financial world is being caused by a handful of men, men with inflated egos, Narcissists so removed from how most people live their lives that one begins to feel that they actually believe they are somehow not entirely human.

But the fact is, they are human, just like all of the rest of us. And we simply do not trust them anymore, and most likely never will again. So let's get the investors and board members and depositors to change things, shake it up, remove these guys and put some women in charge, and those in whom we actually have trust again.

Then and only then will America have a banking system worth believing in, and until then, well, it's pretty much Us against Them. And I have a pretty strong feeling They are going to Lose. Because there are more of us, and we actually are rediscovering our power both politically and economically. Move your money. Call your representatives. Educate your children about the political process. Rebuild your communities and help those in need. There are so many people not finding work after losing their jobs. There is so much good will and energy among young people who want to remain optimistic about their future. America will be whole again and it will be even better now that we have woken up from this fantasy.

Turn off the TV. Dust off your bicycle. Have a block party and get to know your neighbors. Grow a garden. Learn to cook really healthy meals. Spend time with your partner and children. Read! It is time to slow down and rethink things. Use this time wisely. Become informed about the world. You are more powerful than you know. You can make a decision and act on it. Once you shift your perspective and take action, everything begins to shift. If we all do it together, a wave of good will and rebuilding will take root. It already is.

P.S. -- After taking a real vacation this summer, turning off the cell phone and disconnecting from email, I realized how very important it is to make time for doing nothing in order to come back re-energized and with new ideas. Check out some of them here.

And at Vigilante-vnm.com and on Twitter