Spiritual Advice on Ethical Investment from a city gent in 1800s England


I was asking about the advisability of ethical investment.  I meditated and this is what came to me:

Advice about ethical investment.

A benign looking man in a black suit, pinstripe waistcoat and pince nez speaks:

Times are troubled, my dear, mind you, they always have been somewhere in the world, usually in many places at once. I worked in the city of London a number of years ago. City gents would arrive at their place of work wearing top hat and tails, if they felt they were of some importance.

There were fewer financial advisers in those days and fewer people with money. Current philosophy is that everyone is supposed to be financially solvent. There is a common thought that money breeds money, but of course prudence will enable that situation to occur, but profligacy will not.

Your dilemma is that you want to avoid subsidising unpleasant, dishonest, and disagreeable companies who make their money on the backs of unfortunate people who are killed, abused or otherwise mistreated as the result of the activities of those companies. I believe this is a wise and proper decision. After all, if nobody supported and sponsored them they would be unable to expand and would soon dwindle for lack of financial backing. It is a pity that more investors do not make this vital connection, or do not wish to make it.

In my day we had an organisation which helped to export people to parts of the world where they were needed as cheap labour- indeed as slaves. Their masters made their fortunes out of these poor innocents who had been either duped, doped or dragged away from their homes. It was a scandalous business that continued for many years because people were willing to turn a blind eye to it. It continues today to a certain extent in a hidden underclass black market of lives. It is a shame and disgrace on those who perpetuate it. They will be obliged to learn from their mistakes in ways which are not at all obvious to those observing from a distance, but learn they will.

Governments know that arms dealing is big business and brings in large amounts of revenue. They are willing to encourage warmongering, as long as it is not ‘at home’ in order to make money from arms sales.  If no tanks and weapons were available, how could there be wars?

When people can open their hearts and share in warm, loving relationships there will be no market for pornography.  Only those embittered by bad experience and faulty child-rearing will consider pornography as appropriate in their lives.  Sadly, there are huge numbers of people who come into this category.  Only love, compassion and good teaching and parenting will eliminate this modern scourge which demeans men and belittles and abuses women and children.

The mistaken belief that smoking was good for one led to almost every man in the United Kingdom becoming a smoker.  It is now well understood that smoking seriously injures the health.  However, many are willing to turn their back on this knowledge and to manufacture and sell this damaging drug.  Why invest in something which kills so many people in unspeakable ways?

So choose well. Even if you lose money in the short term, the world will be the richer in the long term; richer in spirit, in compassion, in love and in happiness.  Surely well worth investing in.

Liu Chang tries to impress (a story for children 10 years to adult)

To despise a word of advice is to ask for trouble. Mind what you are told and you will be rewarded. 

 Proverbs, 13. 13  New English Bible

Liu Chang was a servant, one of many in the king’s household.   He thought himself to be cleverer than most; he was also ambitious.  He thought that if he planned all his actions carefully he could climb the ladder of seniority amongst the servants and get very close to the king.  Liu Chang was not as clever as he thought himself to be.  Others had noticed his ambitions and had guessed his plans.  People laughed and joked about him behind his back.  Liu Chang was unaware of what his fellows were saying about him.  He tried to make himself popular with the senior servants by attempting to spend time with them and to fetch and carry for them whenever possible.  He even anticipated what they might want and would try to impress them with his eagerness to please.  Sometimes he got it right and brought the correct clothing or equipment, even before he was asked for it.  At other times he made mistakes bringing the wrong tools or weapons, or the wrong costumes.  The other servants would laugh at him.

‘You try too hard, Liu Chang.  You should hold back and wait for instructions.  You do not know the mind of the Master!’

Liu Chang paid no attention.  One day he heard the other servants discussing the funeral of one of the king’s elderly relatives.  Liu started to plan what would be needed for the occasion and to gather it all, ready to be supplied the instant the king required it.

The message came down to the servants’ quarters.  The king required his regalia.  Without waiting to hear the details Liu rushed forward with the funeral gown, boots and head attire suitable for a sombre occasion. He passed by the other servants and went straight to the king’s chamber.

‘Your regalia, your Majesty!’ said Liu, bowing low.

‘What’s this, what’s this?’ said the king. ‘Who are you that comes rushing into my chambers?  What is this that you bring me?  Funeral attire?  Are you planning to ridicule me amongst my people?  My cousin’s wedding would be blighted if I wore these raiments, you foolish servant.  Get away!  Do not trouble me again with your presence.”

Lui Chang bowed low, his face white with shame and fear.  His mistake would ruin his ambitious plans.  On his way back to the servants’ quarters he passed the king’s dresser who said:

‘Ah, it is Liu Chang carrying funeral vestments!  You would not heed our advice Liu Chang, and now you have made yourself ridiculous in the eyes of the king.  You would do better to keep away from the high places and forget your ambitions which are so plain for all to see.  Become humble and serve the children of the courtiers.  Plan ahead for them, for children do not know their own minds.  Perhaps if they come to appreciate you, you will grow in wisdom and humility.  You may come to serve the king again, but until you learn to follow good advice you must learn from the children.


Why do you think Liu Chang wanted to please the senior servants?

What did he do to try to please them?

Why did people laugh about him behind his back?

Why was the king so angry with him?

What was his punishment for pushing himself forward and bringing the wrong clothing to the king?

What does humility mean to you?

When a wise person gives you advice what do you do?

Being a good businessman. A story about honesty for teenagers

There was once a young boy named Ahmed.  He went to school and learnt his lessons.  He always tried to do his best.  He prayed to Allah that he might learn everything that he needed to know to become a businessman like his father.

When the time came Ahmed started to help his father in his work. Ahmed had a handsome face and people liked him to get them chai and to carry their shopping for them.  Life was simple, chai had a price, everyone knew it.  The sweet drink made customers happy.

Ahmed's customers liked his smiling face.

Ahmed’s customers liked his smiling face.

As for carrying cases some people were generous, others were not.  In the end Ahmed picked up about the same amount of money every week.

Ahmed had learnt the Holy Koran at the mosque.  He had learnt that it is important to be honest, but with time he started to notice that his father was not always honest with his customers.  Sometimes his father would say one thing and do another.  The customers would be puzzled and some would think, “Ah, this is a language problem,” or that the customs were different in Ahmed’s country.  But what Ahmed’s father did not take into consideration is that people have long memories and that people know other people.  When it came to recommending a taxi driver or a business man, for every customer who was cheated, ten customers might go to other business men for their trade as a result.

A person’s good name is worth more than silver or gold.  Silver or gold come and go,  but a good name, once it has gone will take a long time to regain and more usually, once it has gone, it has gone forever.  Other people are very willing to spread news of a bad name.  This is because they do not wish their friends to have a bad experience and be cheated, or because they themselves, if they are tradesmen, may benefit from work that might have gone to the dishonest businessman.

Ahmed had two choices.  He realised he could either try to make his father change his ways or he could set up in his own name resolved to be completely honest.  If a customer thinks they are being cheated they may become frustrated and angry.  They feel like they are ‘juggling with sand’, so they take their custom elsewhere for their own peace of mind.

Ahmed decided to speak to his father about his concerns.  His father said, “God does not expect me to be perfect, if I am honest ninety percent of the time,  God will not judge me to be a bad man?”

“I am not thinking about God judging you, Father.  I am thinking about our good name.  It is people who will be judging you right now.  If we cheat even only ten percent, they could easily ruin our reputation, and they certainly would not come back or send their friends to us.”  Ahmed’s father scratched his chin.  “I have never thought of it like that.  You could be right, son.  I think I will have to give this some consideration.”

Ahmed was pleased that his father was willing to change his dishonest ways.  He felt their future would be more secure if they were always dependable.  What do you think?


Do you know any traders or business people that you or your parents can trust completely?

Would you go to a different trader if you already knew one who would always be honest with you and everyone else?

Would you return to someone and ask them to work for you if they had cheated you or your friends before?

Not every one believes in God, those who do often think that God is watching what they do. Whether or not God is watching we can be sure that people are watching and noticing what we do. 

If we all act in ways that we would like other people to act towards us, what effect would that have on all our lives?

Story about having a guilty conscience (Bible inspired, Proverbs 28, v1)for kids 10 – 14

Proverbs 28 verse 1

‘The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion’

My Uncle Tommy

I used to live in New York City.  My folks didn’t have much money – life was tough.  My dad worked at the docks.  My mom was a cleaner.  She used to clean offices in skyscrapers.  You know those tall buildings that just go up and up?  I know plenty of countries don’t have those – and just as well.  Terrible buildings they are, if you have to work in them, or worse if you have to live in them.  We lived in a block of flats which might as well have been as skyscraper, but it wasn’t.  You get the feeling of being penned in, like a caged animal.  All you want to do is get the heck out of there and feel the grass under your feet, or go climb a tree, but you can‘t.  You just have to put up with being indoors most of the time.

When I was a young kid I didn’t do much, just watched the TV and played imaginary games with my toy soldiers.  Sometimes they became cowboys and Indians and sometimes they were the North against the South in the American Civil war.  There was always a lot of killing and dying involved.  There was so much of it on TV.  I guess I thought that is what life is about – living and dying, the hunter and the hunted.

One day an uncle came to stay.  My mom and dad told me not to speak about my uncle to anyone.  I was used to doing what my parents told me so I said nothing to anybody.  My kid brothers and I all had to share a room when this uncle turned up.  We all had to play quietly when we were at home at the weekends because he would be fast asleep.  He slept during the days and went out at nights.

“Uncle Tommy – does he work nights?”  I asked my mother.

“He don’t work at all, junior, just sleeps and creeps.”

Ma wasn’t fond of Uncle Tom.  He expected her to feed him and wash his clothes, and he was very fussy about his clothes.  They had to be just right.  Where he was goin’ he had to look the part, not that many people ever saw him, my ma said.

“Why doesn’t he go out in the day time?”  I asked.

“Too many people know him, he thinks.  They might bother him, he says.”

“Why, Ma? Has he done somethin’ wrong?”

“Well, son, he did something wrong years ago and he paid for it.  He went to prison and stayed for ten years.  Now he’s out and he’s with us ‘cos he’s got nowhere else to go.’

“But why doesn’t he get a job and get his own place, Ma?”

“He’s afraid now son.  He’s afraid someone is lookin’ for him.  He done bad all them years ago, and now he thinks someone will find him and punish him all over again.”

“Is he a bad man, Ma?  Will he be bad to us?”

“No, son, he won’t be bad to us, we are all he has got.”

“Will he always be with us, Ma?”  I asked, wondering when we would be able to get the bedroom back, and be able to play our rowdy games, like we used to.

“I reckon he’ll team up with some of them no-goods he goes to see by night.  He’ll probably move in with them.  I hope he don’t for his sake.  He’ll be back in prison for certain sure if he does.”

“I don’t want him to go to prison,” I said, thinking about him never being able to get outside and walk on grass and climb on rocks and maybe even trees.  “He can have my room.”

“You are a good kid,” said Ma,  “But I know Tom.  I know how he thinks.  He’s got a guilty conscience and thinks people are out to get him, even when they are not.  He doesn’t understand going straight.  His world is crooked and so is he.  He thinks he’ll get protection from his gang, but all they really want is to use him.  He’ll be back in choky before long, you mark my words.”

Sure enough the police came looking for Uncle Tommy a few weeks later, but he had already disappeared.  He and three other members of his gang were found guilty of car theft and he was soon back behind bars.  He swore he had nothing to do with it, but as my Ma said, “If you lie with dogs, you get fleas.”

I learnt a lot from having Uncle Tom to stay.  I learnt how important it is to be honest and straight, to keep out of trouble, and to be strong and fierce if folks tried to get me to do otherwise.  I didn’t want to have a guilty conscience and go creeping around, afraid of my own shadow.  I wanted to go where I wanted to go any time, day or night.  And I did, and I still do.

What do you think the word righteous means in the Proverb:

The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.

  1. Why do you think that being ‘righteous’ can make people feel as bold as a lion?
  2. Uncle Tom was a criminal who had paid the price for his crime by going to prison.  Why do you think he felt people were still out to get him?
  3. What do you think it feels like when you know you have done something wrong and you are waiting for someone to find you out?
  4. Have you ever done something which made you feel guilty?  Did you know that it would before you did it?  Would you do the same thing again if you had the choice?
  5. What does the boy’s mother mean when she says:  “If you lie with dogs you get fleas.”
  6. What ending would you like to have on the story? Could it have a happy ending for Uncle Tom?

The Old Boots – story about learning from your mistakes (for children 10-14 years)

He who refuses correction is his own worst enemy, but he who heeds reproof learns sense.  Proverbs 15 verse 32

The Old Boots

My name is Wang.  My family live in the north of China.  You must remember that China is a huge country.  The North is very cold in winter.  We have to wear plenty of clothes to prevent frostbite.  When we go out we must put on several layers of clothing and we always wear headgear to cover our ears and necks as well as the top of our heads.  We also wear gloves and big fur lined boots.  These clothes, especially the boots are expensive and they get handed down to other children as we grow out of them.  Kid’s feet grow so quickly they soon grow out of their boots.  We do have a clever way of using socks so that boots can stay with their owner for longer.  When we first get our boots we may wear three pairs of socks so that they fit.  Then we go down to two, then one pair.  Then sadly, we pass them on, or gladly, if we already have another pair of good boots waiting for us.  If we are lucky one pair of boots will last one child a whole winter, before they get passed on to the next wearer.

I remember one year when I was eleven years old I got a pair of boots from my neighbour who was twelve.  I was used to getting his boots and clothes when he grew out of them.  I looked at them.  They were much worn.  He must have had them from someone else first.  Usually his things were all right; they were not too worn out, but these boots were quite tattered.  I was cross.  I would be expected to wear these  old boots for the whole winter.  My mother told me that I must wear them carefully and look after them because she did not know where the next pair of boots would come from if I wore those ones out.  She certainly could not afford to buy me a new pair.  I hated those boots.  I decided I would wear them out as quickly as I could, then she would have to get me a better pair.

We used to walk to our village school every day.  There would be ice on the road and every child knew you should not slide on the ice as it would wear out your boots.  So I slid on the ice.  I slid and slid.  I showed off to the others.  Some of them tried too.  The older ones told us not to slide as our boots would wear out and we would get frostbite.  I knew an old neighbour who had frostbitten hands.  He had lost two fingers.  The other children stopped sliding but I carried on.

Wang wanted to wear out his boots on the ice

Wang wanted to wear out his boots on the ice

Finally I managed to wear a hole in my boots.  I felt triumphant.  Now my mother would have to get me another pair of boots.

I showed the hole in my boot to her.  She just looked at me.

“Well what do you want me to do about it?” she asked after a long wait.

“I want a better pair of boots,” I said, “I told you these ones were no good.”

“Do you think I don’t know what you have been doing to your boots?  Do you think your friends say nothing to their mothers, and their mothers say nothing to me?”

I looked down. “Why didn’t you tell me to stop sliding then?”

“I get tired of telling you to stop doing things when you know very well what will happen if you don’t.  You must take responsibility for your own actions when you know that something will go wrong if you don’t!”

My mother made me mend my boots with stinking fish glue and some old leather from a pair of worn-out boots.  The mend hurt my foot and gave me blisters.

After two weeks of watching me limp my mother took my boots and re-mended them herself, so that they didn’t hurt me any more.  I was always careful to look after my boots and clothes after that.  I made sure I handed them on in good condition to the next person.  I did learn from my mistakes.  My mother said it’s all right to make mistakes as long as we learn from them.

The Proverb is ‘He who refuses correction is his own worst enemy’…

  • In what way did Wang refuse correction?
  • What does it mean ‘to be your own worst enemy’?
  • Can you think of something you have done after you were told not to do it, and it caused you a problem?
  • Can you think of a time when you learned from your mistake?


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Story About Non Violence from a Roman Soldier (for children 10-14 years)

Proverbs 3  Verse 31,

31 : Do not envy or copy a violent man or choose any of his ways

32: for the Lord detests a perverse man, but takes the upright into his confidence (New International Version of Old Testament)

Story from a Roman soldier

My name is Lucius.  I am a Roman soldier.  I came to Britain many years ago, two hundred years after the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It was my job to provision the battalion.  I had to make sure that there would be enough to eat for every man, woman and child in our care, for indeed many of our men had wives and children with them.  We would deal with the local people.  We would barter for goods or pay for them with our own money if they would accept it.

We kept animals to feed ourselves.  We grew winter crops which we saved to feed our stock.  We introduced many new crops to Britannia.  Our goats and sheep would graze the pastures.  We wanted to live peaceably with the local populations if possible.  It was too exhausting to be at war.  We wanted to gain territory rather by doing business with the people than by subduing them with weapons.  We wanted them to feel they could welcome us into their towns and cities.  We could show them many ways of building roads and houses that were new to them.  This would make it more likely that they would want to become like us as they could see the advantages of our ways.

I remember on one occasion a young man from a village near our fort came to see me.  He said he wanted to join the battalion.  He was tired of life on the land and wanted to weald a sword instead of a ploughshare.  I asked him what he thought he would be doing with his sword.

“I will be killing people, of course,” said he.

“And why would you want to do that?” I enquired, surprised at his reply.

“That is what all Roman soldiers do,” said he.  “That is why Rome has come and taken our land, our towns and our villages.  That is why you can eat whenever you want to eat.  It is why you can wear fine clothes and live in grand fortresses.”

“Young man,” said I, “It is not by violence that we conquer this land; it is by power.  We are more powerful than you people.  There are many of us and we are well organised and well disciplined.  It is true that our swords are sharp and our lances long and lethal, but the truth is we rarely use them.  We do not wish to waste human blood.  Every man is of value.  Every person, Roman or Briton is precious to us.  Do not think that if you join our army you will be killing people every day.  Indeed it is to be hoped that you would never need to kill anyone.  It is the threat of violence that controls people, rather than violence itself.  An army needs strong discipline so that unnecessary killing is strictly avoided.

An undisciplined man who kills another without a thought for the value of life will find that others may take revenge upon him.  He himself will have a short life, and the life that he has will be constantly under threat.  Fear will rule his life.  In choosing a way of violence he is choosing a path of fear.


  1. Why do you think the young man envied the Roman soldiers?

  1. How did he think they were able to control the local population?

  1. How did Lucius explain the truth?

  1. What is the danger of being a violent person?

  1. Does the story remind you of anything in your life, or in the lives of people you know about?

  1. What do you think verse 32 means?  In another translation of the Bible (New English) it says ‘For one who is not straight is detestable to the Lord, but upright men are in God’s confidence.’  There are lots of issues to consider here too!

A story about the importance of keeping your good name. (for children 10 -14 yrs)

Proverbs 22:1  A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

A story about the importance of keeping your good name.

I have two sisters. One is ten, the other is eleven.  I was born five years before they came along.  My friends don’t pay much attention to my sisters.  They call them ‘the kids’, but I have had to look after them quite a lot when they were young and I want to make sure they are OK when they become teenagers.  Things can go wrong when you leave primary school and start your secondary education in a huge school with one or even two thousand pupils.

My younger sister Megan is the one I worry about the most.  She is always trying to look older and be older than she really is.  Tash, the other one is content to be her age.

Megan likes to hang around with the lads up at the park.  Some of them are OK – most of them are really, but one or two I wouldn’t trust for a minute.  They are always boasting about what they have done or what they are going to do, and it’s all lies.  Megan comes home and tells us all about it.  My mum gets cross and tells me I should be looking out for my sister.  Well, I can’t be there all the time, can I?  The park is just next door and Mum doesn’t really want to stop Megan from going out.  She tries to get Tash to keep Megan company, and Tash does go out too, but not so much.  She likes reading and doing her Karaoke at home.  She says she doesn’t like the park gang and she thinks they are stupid.

Will they give her a bad name?

“I don’t want everyone to think I’m like one of them, ’cos I’m not.  I don’t go bragging about stupid things and smoking and drinking fizz and saying it’s alcohol.”

“They aren’t all like that,” said Megan, “Only Nico, you know, Nicotine Nigel, he’s the only one.”

“Well maybe so, but the others just hang around and gossip about each other.  I don’t want to do that.  Before you know it they’ll be gossiping about you.” said Tash.

“No they won’t.  Why should they?  I haven’t done anything.”

“ Maybe not, but people who gossip often make up stories about others if they have nothing better to do.”

“Well no one would believe them.  They can’t just lie about someone, Well , except for Nico, he’d lie about anyone.” said Megan.

“What about your friend Simon?  I hear he stole some sweets from the supermarket!”

Megan went white, then red.  She didn’t know what to say.  She liked Simon and she trusted him.  Now here was Tash telling her that Simon was a thief, and she believed her sister.

“Don’t worry, Meg, I just made that up to see what you would think.  You believed me didn’t you?”

“Well, you don’t tell lies, that’s why I believed you.  You shouldn’t say that about Simon, it’s not true.”

“That’s right, said Tash,” I’m just showing you what some people are like when they gossip.  They make up stories about people that others might believe, then Simon, or someone like him gets a bad name.”

“Oh, that’s not fair is it?  I wouldn’t do that!”

“Well just be careful who you hang about with or you might get a bad name too, and you wouldn’t want that would you?


What does ‘having a good name’ mean to you?

What does ‘having a bad name’ mean to you?

What might happen if someone had a bad name?

How can you  keep your good name?

Does the story remind you of anything in your life?