Although it is a very precise ritual that encourages healthier soil and more robust agriculture by not planting or harvesting on every seventh year, and though it offers a release from the maddening chicanery of man-made economics by pushing a reset button on the financial sector every fifty years, the year of Jubilee is neither discussed nor practiced in any known Jewish sect nor any Christian Church. Filled with a great many “thou shalt nots”, the book of Leviticus lays out this beautiful fix for the nonsense man comes up with, and it is sadly almost completely ignored by both factions of the Judeo-Christian tradition. I beseech those of the Christian and Jewish faiths to look more deeply into their own sacred texts and question with scrutiny why their organizations are not practicing this mandate of forgiveness given to them by their God.
I am not claiming that the Bible should be recognized as the authority for the entirety of the planet. Nor am I saying that we should institute all of the laws in its pages. I am saying that the members of these institutions who claim to have faith in that book, either the Torah or the entirety of the Bible, need to recognize that, at a time when we are facing insurmountable financial problems, forcing people into unnecessary poverty, homelessness, disease, and incarceration, the source of their faith offers an answer to this dilemma. People of faith must steer the conversation toward the practical notion of actually following the mandate set forth by the God they believe in through a book which has been so long revered but so seldom followed.
It doesn’t take a cleric or a clergyman to recognize that the ways of man are fallible. It is due to this fallibility that religious laws and rituals were crafted in the first place. Although many of them are no longer applicable to modern life, there is wisdom in entertaining those that help to creatively rectify the destruction which comes with the ways of man.
Economics as we know it is one such way of man. The ridiculous disparity between rich and poor and the unnecessary poverty, hunger, and disease that plague so much of a species which claims to be civilized stand as testaments to the glaring fallibility of global, debt-based economics. Because the game of economics is limited to things that are quantifiable, it cannot account for the fullness of life nor the true goals of humanity, and it should not be solely relied upon to help us reach them.
One of our greatest follies is our devaluation of life by using money to represent it. If there actually are people of faith in this world, certainly we should unite, have a great big laugh at how foolish we’ve been, and turn toward the light of abundance which cannot be measured. If you are truly a person of faith, I ask you to step back and look at this way which seems right to a man and ask your God if it does certainly end in death.
Considering that the monetary system in itself is merely a human construct, complicated by generations’ worth of insecurity and manipulation, is it so impossible to consider that erasing the debt record might again make our economy manageable? Considering that the present state of the monetary economy is tied to the US dollar which now has no intrinsic value, thanks to Richard Nixon, the first president to ever be forced to leave office in disgrace due to his unethical shenanigans; and considering that the US dollar no longer has any ties to physical accountability, is it so farfetched to consider that we should reset this odd little game of ours? Considering that our current financial system is based upon burning up inordinate amounts of natural resources in order to produce more of this nonsensical, worthless lucre to sustain luxurious lifestyles for a minute percentage of the population while the rest of the planet must sacrifice its health and wellbeing, should we not recalibrate the settings for our goals in life?
The year of Jubilee is the rationalization of forgiveness. Even atheists must agree that as we have aimlessly bumbled our way through our evolutionary journey, we have made mistakes along the way. With or without religion, the aggregation of the majority of financial wealth into the hands of very few while more and more fall prey to poverty is a mistake that we can either recognize and fix or continue to make. The greatest fix for folly is forgiveness, and a year of Jubilee would help rectify this most heinous mistake.
In Forbes magazine, Erik Kain writes, “There’s the old biblical idea of a jubilee – a national cancellation of private debts. That’s what Fred Clark suggests could be a fix to our economic ills, and it’s not a bad idea at all.” In the last thousand years since the Bible has been bound, due to the ignorance of this largely overlooked declaration, we have missed out on at least twenty Jubilees, and that doesn’t even begin to account for the centuries of oral tradition during which this time of divinely mandated forgiveness was completely ignored.
Kain goes on to write, “In many ways, rather than creating a sustainable economy built around steadily rising middle and working class wages, we’ve built an unsustainable economy built on consumer debt… Now we’re paying the price.”
Craig Hill, author of Five Wealth Secrets 96% Of Us Don’t Know, says,“When credit was made available in any society, human nature dictates with one hundred percent certainty, that over a few decades, people will borrow more money than it is possible to pay back. Additionally, lenders, because of greed, will lend to uncreditworthy borrowers. As a result, over about five decades, or fifty years, the economy in that society will take on an unsustainable amount of debt, and there is a need to eliminate that debt. This is why God commanded Israel to declare a national debt purge every fifty years.“
As Cameron Gordon, Associate Professor of Economics at University of Canberra, puts it in The Conversation, “The main economic justification for a modern debt jubilee is simple. With debts forgiven, governments, households and individuals could spend the money currently devoted to interest and principal repayments on consumption which would, in turn, increase economic demand and encourage economic growth, and eventually take the world economy out of constant crisis.”
Rationally, it makes sense. Biblically, it makes sense. However, there is quite a big old stick in the mud here that keeps us from embracing the freedom the Jubilee can offer. As Gordon goes on, “Applied globally, a big issue is that one person’s debt is another person’s asset. While a debt jubilee would cancel the burden to the borrower, it also would eliminate the value of the debt as source of wealth to the lender.”
So the big issue is the same one we faced when we abolished slavery. The question now is, will those who have assumed the servitude of those whose debts they hold forgive them and rely on their Creator to provide abundance through alternative means, or will we continue to languish in unyielding debt?
We don’t need a mandate from God to tell us that our economic system is remarkably fallible and needs to be dealt with. We don’t need a sign from the heavens to realize that humanity has been duped. The only thing we need is forgiveness, for our debts, for our folly, and for our fellow man. And so shall be our Jubilee.
If you are a person of the Christian or Jewish faith, please read about the year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25, and ask your pastors and rabbis why Jubilee is not practiced. Ask yourself if you have been placed here in this time and place to be a hero for this cause and to help bring healing to the land. If you are thankful for religious freedom in America and around the world, please let your religion offer the freedom that has been too long ignored, and join us in our call for Jubilee.