I’m watching the live stream of the launch party for Occupy Wall Street’s newest effort, the Rolling Jubilee, and I have to say, this project is incredibly exciting.
This is a fabulously simple idea! People are making donations to buy other people’s debt at pennies on the dollar (just like the collectors do!) and they’re just erasing it. Poof, there’s a giant weight off a person’s shoulders.
Go check out the stats on the RJ website – 77.5% of American households are in debt! That’s insane. Nationally, the ratio of household debt to income is 154%. Collectively, we’re all screwed. This crisis has reached epic and unsustainable proportions.
One of my student loans was bought by a collection agency a few years ago. Even though I was still getting bills from my actual lender, I started getting harassing phone calls from them at least once a day, and if I picked up they would start telling me I would never get out of debt. I got lucky, because it was a small loan and I could take care of it. But to add that pressure of constant threatening phone calls on top of all the other worries (how I was going to pay rent, applying for food stamps, what I was doing with my life…) was almost overwhelming. For someone who can’t get out from under it, I can’t even imagine what that would be like.
I have always loved the very-Presbyterian “forgive us our debts…” line that’s the title of this post. Not because “debt” somehow equates to “sin,” which it obviously doesn’t, but because of the reciprocity of it. “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” The power imbalance of debtors and creditors is not God’s way, apparently, and that’s an idea I can get behind.
The biblical Jubilee is based on the idea that the land is God’s, not ours, and “we are but tenants.” The state of income inequality in this country (and the world) is sickening. None of this money is yours, dear 1%, and yet you have effectively used it to enslave more than half the country. THIS IS NOT OKAY.
So I’m making a donation, and I’d love it if you would too. The kingdom of God is at hand, but only if we start living like it.