Gandhi Statue Blocks Entrance to Goldman Sachs in Boston
January - February 2011
Volume and Number:
Volume 11, No 1
Information and Action Addressing Public Policy for an
Ecologically Sustainable World
Volume 11, Number 1
Gandhi Statue Blocks Entrance to Goldman Sachs in Boston
Lewis M. Randa with photos by Dan Dick
It was quite a sight indeed. A nine foot statue
of Gandhi, flanked by police and security
guards, was blocking the entrance to the Gold-
man Sachs offices in Boston on October 28,
2010. Intended as a gift to be placed in the
lobby as a warning against the evils of greed,
the statue ended up being rejected and then
used to close down the entrance to the build-
ing. Hanging off the wrist of the statue was a
large poster with Gandhi’s words: “The World
Holds Enough for Everyone’s Need, But Not
for Everyone’s Greed”.
The poster with the Gandhi quote, printed by Quaker Peace and Service at Friends
Quaker Eco-Bulletin (QEB) is pub-
House, London, brings together the ecological fact of natural abundance with the
lished bi-monthly by Quaker Earthcare
sad reality of human greed, and challenges us to address Gandhi’s admonition. And
Witness (formerly FCUN) as an insert
that we did, on an autumn day in the center of Boston with a statue of Gandhi, who,
in BeFriending Creation.
throughout his life was inspired by the Quaker tradition of social activism and direct
The vision of Quaker Earthcare Wit-
action. His criticism regarding the indifference and greed of the wealthy was legendary.
ness (QEW) includes integrating into
His example to live the change we wish to see in the world was so morally compelling
the beliefs and practices of the Society
that doing nothing simply wasn’t an option.
of Friends the Truths that God’s Cre-
ation is to be held in reverence in its own
Here is how the demonstration unfolded. Students with special needs from the
right, and that human aspirations for
Life Experience School and members of the Peace Abbey* in Sherborn, stood their
peace and justice depend upon restor-
ground, as together we moved the Gandhi statue step-by-step toward Boston police
ing the Earth’s ecological integrity. As a
officers and Goldman Sachs security guards. Slowly and thoughtful y we made our way
member organization of Friends Com-
from the sidewalk to the front of One Twenty-Five High Street in the financial district
mittee on National Legislation, QEW
of Boston. Despite warnings from police to stop advancing with the statue toward the
seeks to strengthen Friends’ support for
entryway, we finally placed it in front of the revolving door. For the next couple of
FCNL’s witness in Washington DC for
hours, the traffic of Wall Street greed, represented by unethical business practices of
peace, justice, and an Earth restored.
Goldman Sachs, had to find another way in.
QEB’s purpose is to advance Friends’
witness on public and institutional poli-
Entering the main entrance of the building required not only getting around Gan-
cies that affect the Earth’s capacity to
dhi and through locked doors, but also stepping over a long, out-stretched chain with
support life. QEB articles aim to inform
tags for several major religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, Sikhism, Baha’i,
Friends about public and corporate poli-
Shinto, Native African, Native American, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity—
cies that have an impact on society’s
each of which stated that the faith abhored greed. The American religion, Capitalism,
relationship to Earth, and to provide
analysis and critique of societal trends
could make no such claim, however, as greed holds sacramental status on Wall Street.
and institutions that threaten the health
Committed and determined, this Quaker-inspired, conscientious band of both
of the planet.
able-bodied and physical y-chal enged peace activists sought to demonstrate their
Friends are invited to contact us about
outrage over the sacking of the economy by a group of Wall Street barons. Many of
writing an article for QEB. Submissions
the protesters had just seen the documentary film “Inside Job” which exposes how
are subject to editing and should:
Goldman Sachs and other Wal Street firms nearly destroyed the economy of this
• Explain why the issue is a
country and the world.
• Provide accurate, documented
Through an elaborate Ponzi scheme that mixed and matched predatory, subprime
background information that re-
mortgage loans and credit card and college tuition debt with commodities and deriva-
ﬂects the complexity of the issue
tives, Goldman Sachs packaged, sold, insured through AIG, then bet against the very
and is respectful toward other
financial products they marketed and made billions of dollars in profits in the process.
points of view.
These practices led to the worst financial recession since the Great Depression with
• Relate the issue to legislation or
severe and continuing affects on the lives and well-being of all of us. We now have a
• List what Friends can do.
government that functions increasingly as the handmaiden of Wall Street and large
• Provide references and sources
corporate interests, an economy that makes a mockery of free enterprise and functions
for additional information.
in a way that is destroying our planet.
QEB Coordinator: Keith Helmuth
The ecological implications of a worldwide recession are clear, as the well being of
QEB Editorial Team: Judy Lumb,
Earth and all its inhabitants become secondary to the profits of investment firms like
Sandra Lewis, Barbara Day
Goldman Sachs. It is time to take eco-action where it belongs—straight to the corridors
of Wall Street and the large corporations they fund. Our next action will be in New
York City when the statue of Gandhi takes the bull by the horns at Merrill Lynch. This
To receive QEB:
time we’ll highlight the environmental devastation of capitalism-run-amuck, and the
continued need for effective regulatory measures of financial institutions.
Mail: write to address below
During the two hours Gandhi blocked the entrance, hundreds of office workers,
Projects of Quaker Earthcare Witness,
tourists and local Bostonians took photos with their cell phones, and sent them across
such as QEB, are funded by contribu-
the internet. A tourist from China, who marveled at the sight of a statue of Gandhi used
for peaceful protest, took a photo with his cell phone and commented to Dot Walsh,
Quaker Earthcare Witness
Peace Abbey Chaplain, “I’ll send this right now to everyone in China.”
173-B N Prospect Street
Burlington VT 05401
In an age when instant communication is global, demonstrations such as ours
serve to remind us that each day we fail to raise our voices against injustice, we miss an
opportunity to reach across the planet with a message of hope and struggle, solidarity
Quaker Eco-Bulletin 11:1 • January-February 2011
and justice. A picture is worth a thousand words, and thanks to
Challenging the Have Mores’
cell phone cameras, the equivalent of millions of words went out
through the image of Gandhi’s anti-greed message—our world
2010 Con Job
holds enough for everyone.
Susan C. Strong
As fellow activist and Peace Chaplain Dan Dick, John Bach
from Cambridge Friends Meeting, and I lifted the statue onto the In a video shot at a fundraiser for the 2004 presidential campaign
Peace Abbey pick-up truck to return to Sherborn, I turned to the
George W. Bush was caught “joking” to his affluent audience
two police officers who were on detail and said, “you gotta admit that some referred to those in attendance as the “Haves.” He said
that a bank protest is better than a bank robbery.” They both he saw them as the “Have Mores” and called them his “Base.” The
grinned, and I added, “but in this case, the robbers run the banks.” party of the “Have Mores” is now claiming their 2010 win justifies
They smiled and nodded … and we called it a day.
radically downsizing government, because, they say, it’s the only
path to economic recovery. We know they are also trying to dam-
When we planned this action we thought nonviolent civil age President Obama’s 2012 election prospects.
disobedience would be necessary at Goldman Sachs, but it turned
out not to be. No one was arrested. We all got to sleep in our own
We understand very well that “smaller government” means
beds and reflect on what we had experienced and how we had been destroying government programs and policies that promote greater
affected by this action.
equality and opportunity for al Americans. Anything else the Have
Mores say is just a big con. But it’s an “American” con. We Friends
Did this action change anything? Highlighting the abuses of need to understand this, so we can be more effective as we chal enge
greed on Wall Street was a public denunciation from a small group those powerful special interests.
of people, who could not remain silent in the face of gross inequality
and injustice. We know that a single action must be accompanied
When I say it’s an “American” con, what do I mean? It’s
by many more actions elsewhere by others, if fundamental change “American” because it draws on deeply embedded pieces of the
is to occur. We hope this protest, which prevented the use of a American cultural story, a narrative we all implicitly know and
single revolving door, wil encourage others to block doors to places share. The Right has long been well versed in using it to promote
where injustice calls out for action.
its own agenda. It’s time we people of good will learned to use ideal
American story language with integrity to promote the public good.
On our ride back to the Peace Abbey, we drove through the
beautiful countryside west of Boston and were reminded that our
“Speaking American” means expressing our concerns in the
action against Wal Street greed was also a prayer for this tiny fragile language and metaphors commonly used to convey pieces of the
planet that suffers immeasurably under the burden of our species. It ideal American identity story. These words and phrases are well
was also a clarion cal to come home to the Quaker values of pacifist known parts of standard American political dialogue. “Speaking
activism, engaged citizenship, and an emboldened willingness to American” is deeply Quakerly, as we are advised by our Quaker
take risks for causes we hold dear.
forebears to speak in language people can understand.
Lewis Randa is the founding director of the Life Experience
The first step in learning to “speak American” is understand-
School for children and young adults with disabilities and ing how the Have Mores have used pieces of the American story
Executive Director of The Peace Abbey. He is a member of to cover their tracks.
Wellesley Friends Meeting in Massachusetts.
Two elements of the American identity story were highlighted
Dan Dick is a Chaplain at the Peace Abbey, an educator, by the Have Mores in the 2010 campaign, and they are still us-
musician, songwriter, vegan and activist. He finds time to use ing them. The first is the idea of freedom—freedom from any
his skills as a photographer to document events for the peace constraints on the action of individuals. This rebellion against any
community rules, pressure, or constraint is a founding piece of
the American character. Americans can be very easily scared by the
*The mission of the Peace Abbey is to create, maintain and idea that someone is going to take away their freedom. And they
promote innovative models for social change that reflect the continue to believe that individual freedom is the key to American
principles of nonviolence that exist within the major faith traditions prosperity.
of the world. In Quaker tradition, it is dedicated to empowering
individuals on the paths of nonviolence, peacemaking, and
The second American story idea the Have Mores used is a
cruelty-free living. It offers a variety of programs and resources little more complex: essentially it’s about being responsible. In this
that teach, inspire and encourage one to speak out and act on case it involves fear of being controlled by a government that goes
issues of peace, the environment, and social and economic into deficit the way the people as responsible individuals don’t dare
justice. Faith in action is the cornerstone of our fellowship and do, especially now.
activist pacifism is our creed.
We need to reclaim these ideas and develop ways to use them
in service to the values of social justice and ecological integrity. We,
and President Obama, must find ways to tell a different American
story about freedom, the deficit, and government. So what would
a different American story about these things be? First, we need to
Quaker Eco-Bulletin 11:1 • January-February 2011
raise our own red flags about freedom. “Cut taxes for the super rich of personal deficits these days. There’s an American story here too.
and then cut Social Security and aid to the states to pay for it?” Who If you find your expenses exceed your income, you don’t just cut
is free if that happens? Who is truly free when there aren’t enough everything, you look for other sources of income. You get busy
federal laws or enforcement agencies to protect us from high-end, and try new things, like the responsible “can-do” American you
white collar crooks stealing from the people and getting off scot are. In hard times, as bitter recent experience shows, government
free? So we could say, “Real freedom in America means freedom is the only reliable backer of the American future, via traceable tax
from being ripped off by the super rich.”
incentives, tax credits, new research and development programs,
outright purchases, or direct employment.
As for the idea that business should be free (no rules again) to
do the job creating and that tax cuts for the super rich wil somehow
If the economy stalls, government is the only agent we have
magically create those jobs—that’s a free lunch for the super rich with the responsibility to seed American jobs here at home, to
at tax-payer expense. Mountains of evidence show that only rising ensure the well-being and prosperity of our whole society. The last
consumer demand creates jobs, not tax cuts for the super rich, few years demonstrate just how much the American people need
corporate CEOs, or even for “small” businesses. Give the rich the that kind of advocate. The Have Mores have shown their contempt
money, and they are free to pour it into the sea, for all we know and lack of concern for their fellow Americans; we certainly can’t
or can trace. (A few media events featuring people dressed as top- rely on them the way they are right now.
hatted bigwigs pouring currency in the form of green water into
So, we must push our wobbly president a lot harder and
the ocean would be nice right now.)
shame our selfish, irresponsible Have Mores in every way we can
think up. We can do that by telling our own American stories ev-
Government-monitored tax credits, incentives, or programs erywhere—online, offline, in the press, in person, and in the streets
are more accountable and responsible ways to give the economy a with smart, highly strategic media events. The action at Goldman
leg up. We can follow that money, because it leaves tracks. If by the Sachs in Boston described above is one example. Another is the
time you read this, we’ve lost the fight to stop the next round of tax Earth Quaker Action Team’s chal enge to investments made by PNC
cuts for the super rich, we need to keep repeating the message. Let’s Bank in Massey Mining Company’s mountain top removal for coal
demand responsible accounting for the way the super rich actually in Appalachia, which is described in a previous Quaker Eco-Bul etin.
spend their tax-cut money. That would be a nice public education
follow up, if it comes out that way.
Susan C. Strong is the Founder and Executive Director of
The Metaphor Project helping progressive activists frame their
Let’s look at the other big con the voting public seemed to messages for mainstream audiences since 1997. She is a
buy in November—the idea that we should bring our federal defi- member of Strawberry Creek Meeting, in Berkeley, California.
cit down by shrinking federal employment. Laid-off government
employees won’t have money to spend on consumer goods, and
they may start losing their houses too. Cut federal jobs and America Lakey, George and Sharon Cantor, 2010. Earth Quaker Action Team.
Quaker Eco-Bulletin 10:4. A video of the action is at <youtube.com/
bleeds faster. When others refuse to hire, government must prime
watch?v=b3EGBoPHKwU> To learn more about how to do effective
the pump itself. Keeping its own people employed is the first step.
street actions in a Quakerly fashion, watch the video of famed Quaker
That’s the responsible thing to do. Public deficits are temporary;
teacher and activist George Lakey talking about the strategy behind it
new wage earners fix them.
Strong, Susan C., 2004. Eco-friendly Persuasion. Quaker Eco-Bulletin 4:4.
The most fundamental problem with the deficit issue is the
A range of free “Speaking American” tools, resources, and message
household finance analogy. Individual voters have a legitimate fear
builders is available at <metaphorproject.org>.
SOCIAL FAIRNESS & ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY
A Workshop on Strategy and Action For a Moral Economy
with George Lakey and Keith Helmuth
We have serious environmental and societal problems that are
• What kind of strategic changes should we advocate?
undermining our society. These problems cannot be solved in
• How can Quaker witness and action become more effective
isolation but only by adopting new policies that address them in a
in helping to make these changes possible?
coherent and coordinated way. The same political and economic The workshop will incorporate short focused critiques that move
systems that institutionalize inequality also institutionalize into a detailed and practical visioning of priorities for change,
ecological destruction by insisting on unlimited and inequitable and then into action planning for effective Quaker engagement
economic growth on a finite Earth.
on the front lines of societal transformation.
Our challenge is to work toward development of more equitable
societies, while maintaining the ecological integrity of our March 4 – 6, 2011 at the Quaker Center, Ben Lomond,
planet. How can Quakers contribute? Drawing on the elements CA (near Santa Cruz) for information and to register
of Quaker heritage that inspire and guide us, we will focus <quakercenter.org>
our strategic inquiry and action planning around the following
Sponsors: Moral Economy Project of Quaker Institute for the
• What are the common roots of the environmental and Future (QIF) and The Ecoberries Affinity Group, Strawberry Creek
socioeconomic crises of today?
Monthly Meeting, Berkeley, California.