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Keepin’ It Human

“To be rhymin’ without a real reason?is to claim but not to practice a religion,

if television is the drug of the nation,

satellite is immaculate reception

beaming in they can look and they can listen

so you see don’t believe in the system

to legalize you or give you your freedom

you want rights ask em’, they’ll read em’?but every flower got a right to be bloomin’

stay human."

\"Stay Human\" Michael Franti

I opened a bank account with the local Austin Telco credit union last week, and will close my Wells Fargo accounts in 10 days to allow for a smooth financial transition.  This report appears to be one of those trite twitter “who gives a damn” text intrusions.  I discovered however that this minute move has triggered magnificent meaning.  As Michael Franti’s lyrical prelude foreshadows it is about keepin’ it human.

My first major banking transaction was in Fort Stockton, Texas.  I looked the Ex High School basketball coach, turned loan officer in the eye and with a firm handshake got a sizable loan on my new 1984 blue Audi 4000.  He then introduced me as the new Church of Christ Youth Minister to the 1st National Bank President.

Not long after that 1st national went big city introducing an ATM card and machine.  I never got one.  It was crucial for me to go inside the bank, look into the face of the teller, exchange a joke or two and feel that human connection.

One awful morning my loan officer’s daughter died suddenly when her gas heater malfunctioned.  I was privileged to offer ongoing pastoral ministry to my devastated friend.  Plastic card banking wouldn’t have afforded this movement from officer to soul friend.

When I moved to Austin in late 1991 I banked with a local concern, Franklin Federal.  Once more I established names and faces that transcended my meager money balances.  Franklin got bought by Norwest.  Then Norwest and Wells Fargo merged.  There is one person at my branch who I still know as a person.  They move personnel more often than a Methodist Bishop moves pastors!

After Wells Fargo made a mistake that overdrew one of my accounts I went into the branch.  The one person I know was on lunch break.  The new “officer”/cog in the machine couldn’t help me.  She said I would have to call the 800 number.  A visit with the  branch manager lackey yielded, “that’s the way it is.”  It took me five hours and six or seven toll free numbers to get the mess cleared up.

After you and I became federal bailout shareholders of Wells Fargo, I got a notice announcing a 3% raise in my credit card interest rate.  I had just heard Wells had reported record profits and were awarding healthy bonuses to their big wigs.

That was it for me.  A visit to the only person I know yielded a fatalistic apology.  “I don’t agree with it.  They are raising our employee rates too.”

I googled all the major national banks in my area coupled with the term "bailout."  The headlines were nauseatingly the same – big quarterly profits, large executive bonuses.  I closed my laptop and declared.  "I’m not doing business with any of these fu*ker’s."  My resolve was seated in defiance.

Walking out of the credit union last week after dealing with a fresh faced college grad to open my account, I not only popped the balloon of my anger.  There was a much more fundamental transaction.  The light of my humanity was rekindled.

CommunitySeminal

Keepin’ It Human

“To be rhymin’ without a real reason?is to claim but not to practice a religion,

if television is the drug of the nation,

satellite is immaculate reception

beaming in they can look and they can listen

so you see don’t believe in the system

to legalize you or give you your freedom

you want rights ask em’, they’ll read em’?but every flower got a right to be bloomin’

stay human."

\"Stay Human\" Michael Franti

I opened a bank account with the local Austin Telco credit union last week, and will close my Wells Fargo accounts in 10 days to allow for a smooth financial transition.  This report appears to be one of those trite twitter “who gives a damn” text intrusions.  I discovered however that this minute move has triggered magnificent meaning.  As Michael Franti’s lyrical prelude foreshadows it is about keepin’ it human.

My first major banking transaction was in Fort Stockton, Texas.  I looked the Ex High School basketball coach, turned loan officer in the eye and with a firm handshake got a sizable loan on my new 1984 blue Audi 4000.  He then introduced me as the new Church of Christ Youth Minister to the 1st National Bank President.

Not long after that 1st national went big city introducing an ATM card and machine.  I never got one.  It was crucial for me to go inside the bank, look into the face of the teller, exchange a joke or two and feel that human connection.

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Chuck Freeman

Chuck Freeman

Rev. Chuck Freeman has served as Minister of Spiritual Life with Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church in Austin, Texas since 1996. He is the creator, producer and host of the radio program “Soul Talk” in its 14 year of broadcasting. The program currently airs on Progressive Blend Radio based in Washington, D.C. http://www.progressiveblendradio.com/.

Chuck is the Founder and President of The Free Souls Project, promoting the integration of spirituality, democracy and ethics from a liberal faith perspective.
You can hear Chuck’s podcasts at www.freesoulsproject.org or peruse his blog at http://freesoulsproject.ning.com/. He is also a regular author on The Seminal, http://www.theseminal.com/.

His Op Ed Pieces have been published in the Austin American Statesman and with Austin’s NPR affiliate, KUT.

Chuck is a lively, reflective, down to earth man who combines irreverence, compassion, and a playful humor in his life and work.

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