An accountant decides to live outside of the capitalist system

Brian Button
Courtesy of Brian Button

Brian Button 1993 –

Born and raised on the Bruderhof, Brian studied accounting, economics, and information systems at a private college in upstate New York and interned at an international accounting firm. At the end of the internship, he was offered full-time employment and a comfortable salary. He declined, however, and moved back home to the Bruderhof. But his education didn’t stop there:

After college I spent six months with a small Christian NGO that does relief and development work in Myanmar and Bangladesh. It was my first experience of extreme poverty and oppression, and it opened my eyes.

The realities in front of me did not fit the neat economic frameworks that I had learned about in business school. I saw children growing up in refugee camps where desperation, hopelessness, hunger, and disease are the norm, and medical care, education, and hope are denied on the basis of their ethnicity. I saw how the displacement of an entire ethnic group, the Rohingya, is directly related to the government’s efforts to accommodate the international investors who circle like vultures over the region’s natural resources.

Men pray to the Almighty to relieve poverty. But poverty does not come from God’s laws – it is blasphemy of the worst kind to claim that. Poverty comes from man’s injustice to his fellow man.
Leo Tolstoy, Christian anarchist and pacifist

Sometimes the work I was doing felt effective; at other times I felt helpless – overwhelmed by the enormous scale of the problem. When you have three hundred food packs to distribute to twelve hundred families, it is impossible to ignore the nine hundred you can’t feed.

Today, Brian works in an office most of the day, managing the Bruderhof’s insurance portfolios. But he does not forget his months overseas:

Moving between a world where revenues are measured in the millions and one where a few dollars make the difference between life and starvation, I felt validated in my decision to live a life outside of the capitalist system whose primary goal is the accumulation of money and power.

Deciding how to approach a project on the community farm

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