2/20/2017 – BY LAINEY HASHORVA (

Dear John, we need to see other banks. It’s not me, it’s you.

In the wake of CEO John Stumpf’s departure from Wells Fargo due to the exposure of rampant ongoing criminal activity, falsifying over 2 million customer accounts, firing 5,300 low-ranking employees, creating unauthorized credit cards and forging signatures, this was not a good Valentine’s Day for the world’s biggest bank.

Several cities have already broken up with Wells Fargo for its dirty business practices, which also include falsifying foreclosure documents, repossession and sale of veterans’ homes and vehicles, damaging people’s credit, displacing seniors and other unethical and unlawful behavior. Recently, the City of Santa Monica, Calif., pledged to divest its interest and investments from Wells Fargo. Other cities have followed suit, including Davis, Seattle, Portland and Philadelphia to name a few.

Did I mention the Dakota Access Pipeline? Wells Fargo is one of the largest investors in the DAPL; the bank even manages the accounting books on that project. It seems Wells has its dirty little octopus hands involved in all sorts of crimes against the people, the land, the native Americans and the water that brings life to so many communities and ecosystems.

The levels of corruption run deep, like toxic oil through untouched sacred lands. On so many levels the bank’s corruption is like a cancer in our country. The only positive that has come from all this dark – and literally diabolical – business is the fact that more and more people are now awake to the fact that they have to do and stand for something. They must show up and choose sides like never before. It’s too late to remain silent to the destruction of our drinking water, our ecology, our future, our credit, our homes, our communities.

So, what do we want to stand for instead?

Never have we been so divided politically, philosophically, morally. Never has it seemed so insurmountable to achieve fundamental rights of fairness, justice and “action.” It seems that business entities as large as these mega banks should be required to take the hippocratic oath like those in the medical profession. “First do no harm,” etc etc, with some form of ethical standards we can all agree on in business, service and stewardship of the planet.

These days, instead, it’s a race to the bottom, politically, ethically, morally. How do we as “regular” people, consumers and occupiers of Earth work together to stop the bleeding? Or, should I say, the oil leaking? How do we avoid being beaten by the monster machine on every level?

There is a quote by George Bernard Shaw in Malcolm Gladwell”s book, “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants,” which reads: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

The thing that gives me hope these days is that movements are rising up and individuals are taking a stand. This momentum and pushback is a beautiful thing to watch. There is a literal smorgasbord of action choices anyone can take. For starters:

1. Say no to banking with cheaters that pollute, forge signatures, charge excessive fees, foreclose on families and veterans.

2. Move your money from Wells Fargo and the banks like it that are choosing harm over health to our society. When you close your accounts, tell them why you’re doing so: Tell them that you want to put your money in a bank that is aligned with your values.

3. Make a sign and show up. You don’t even need a pink hat to take a stand: All you need is a good message written on a piece of cardboard.

4. Call and email your congressional representative and tell them why you are bothered by the fact that they are not representing your best interests (ie. the policies they support are harming environmental protections, consumer protections, etc.)

5. Show up to those town hall meetings and make your voice heard.

6. Tweet back at bogus messaging and hate speech.

7. Volunteer.

8. Vote (with your dollars, not just at the ballot box.)

9. Walk a senior’s dog, pick up litter in your neighborhood, or any other number of activities that help people in your community.

So many small things you do can contribute to the greater good and provide a counter-balance to all the negative. Quoting Gladwell himself: “Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.”

In our persistence against injustices big or small, we make our voices heard. We speak for those who cannot speak or stand or fight back. We make progress, we say NO. When we tire, we rest. Our opposition depends on protest fatigue; on outnumbering us in size and money; on hefty resources and militarized response. But all through history, the persistence of “unreasonable” movements, with the odds stacked against them and the laws in place to prohibit them, forced progress by dragging us all toward an evolution of mind, spirit and collective consciousness.

These are unprecedented times which call for unprecedented resistance: to hate, discrimination, fascists, cheaters. We put our strength where are values are. And we invest our money as consumers the same way, choosing among institutions that compete for our business, our loyalty and our dollars. It is time for us individually and collectively to define who we really are, by defining what we leave for the future, and by showing the heart or lack thereof that we wish to offer the world.

Dear Wells Fargo, Roses are red, Violets are blue, your business model sucks and so do you.

Wells Fargo, foreclosure crisis, bank bailouts, John Stumpf, banking crimes
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