Jubilee Until We're Free!
Jubilee Until We're Free!
We have a tool to break the chains of debt, so let's use it!
By Libby Maxey / filmsforaction.org

When the world was new and people were innocent, nothing was owned. There was no concept of possession. Everything in creation simply was, including us.

Indigenous people around the world remain in sharing cultures. ‘The people,’ our brothers and sisters of the American Indian nations, don’t share our concept of personal ownership or possession. Common to most nations is a practice called ‘giveaway,’ a ceremony you might witness at a powwow. Giving is central to being an American Indian, a way of offering thanks to the Creator, bestowing honor, teaching about relationship, distributing goods and for maintaining balance within the community.

“Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilized men, we didn’t have any kind of prison. Because of this, we had no delinquents. Without a prison, there can be no delinquents. We had no locks nor keys and therefore, among us there were no thieves. When someone was so poor that he couldn’t afford a horse, a tent, or a blanket, he would, in that case, receive it all as a gift. We were too uncivilized to give great importance to civilized property. We didn’t know any kind of money and consequently, the value of a human being was not determined by his wealth. We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers, no politicians, therefore we were not able to cheat and swindle one another. We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived and I don’t know how to explain how we were able to manage these fundamental things that (so they tell us) are so necessary for a civilized society.”  ~ John Fire Lame Deer, Sioux Lakota

Sounds like the Indian nations were far more civilized.   

American Indian prophecies point to our current perilous predicament on Planet Earth, and all agree that by returning to the ways of ‘the people,’ our Earth and humankind will not only survive, but thrive.

Lots of our ideas have to change for us to return to the ways of ‘the people’ - like ownership. Have you ever wondered about why we own things? How about all the ways we “own” people, from outright slavery to possessiveness? And think about this: does a human being have the right to claim ownership of a piece of Planet Earth?

Ownership and money and debt and obligation; rich vs. poor, greater than vs. lesser than, owner vs. slave, power vs. powerless, greed vs. need: what have we created? Is this what we want?

This is going to sound childish and even foolish, but we can declare do-overs! Seriously – there’s a recipe for economic re-set, and I’m not kidding: it’s in the Bible. The Old Testament. So this idea could have wide appeal. It could sell.

Simultaneously, this economic re-set button is a bridge for returning to the ways of ‘the people.’ We need a bridge, because (as you may have noticed) there is a tremendous resistance to change. We have ‘liked’ the system of possession and oppression for a long, long time.

So, are you interested yet?

First the bad news. God’s do-overs re-set button is found in Leviticus, Chapter 25. Yes, I know. Leviticus has a bad name because of gay persecution. Let’s just say that some verses in the Bible have become weapons. It doesn’t mean the words were ever intended for cruelty. Ancient Hebrew is a difficult language to translate, and many councils of men have done the translating. So.

Now, the good news: God’s do-over system is called the Jubilee Year.

To understand how amazing this economic do-over can be, there’s an important term to understand: atonement, a word that defines itself. At-one-ment means not separate but whole. One with our Creator, all beings and all life.

Let’s get started on how this re-set works.

Judaism’s holiest day is Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. It’s the final day of a weeklong celebration beginning with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Contemplating the Day of Atonement requires humility, fasting, prayer and rest, because the Hebrew people are commanded to forgive everyone for all slights, harms, misdeeds and misperceptions.

Pretty powerful, right?

It gets way better. Every 50th Yom Kippur, trumpets announced the Jubilee Year, a two-year period of magnified atonement. Preparations for a Jubilee Year were made well in advance, because even the farmland was given rest. All debts were cancelled. All slaves were emancipated. Land that had been sold reverted to the former owners.

The Jubilee Year is our do-over. The way I see it, Yom Kippur and the Jubilee Year were God’s way of establishing a systematic program of forgiveness for the people, a re-set button to prevent the extremes of wealth and poverty we witness today, worldwide.

Right there in Leviticus, we were given the Jubilee Year for our use. It’s ours, a gift of astonishing grace…but only we actually use it.

Sad to say, there isn’t any calculation of the next 50th Yom Kippur. The Jubilee Year generally died out during the Babylonian captivity of the Jewish people. There isn’t any agreement about when the next actual Jubilee Year might be.

Since it’s ours, let’s declare a Jubilee to last until we’re all free!

What would your life be like without debt? No mortgage. No college loans. No car loan. No credit card bills. Nothing owed to the IRS. No medical bills. No payments to parents or friends or poker buddies. No title loans.

Don’t you long for debt freedom? Wouldn’t it be easier to love yourself, love your family and even love the world without the stress of being a slave to debt?

Could you relieve others of their debts to you? What about those loans to people you know will never pay you back? Could you actually forgive your debts and debtors?

The ladder of debt forgiveness could extend higher and further: what if all banks forgave all loans and every loan the banks owed was also forgiven, all the way up and down the line? Could it work? What if the US government forgave all loans to states and cities? What if every country forgave loans owed by other countries? What if the next President declared do-overs?

What if we had the courage to use the Jubilee Year re-set?

Hopeful signs are emerging and growing, like the movement to forgive student loan debt, make public universities tuition-free and community college free for residents. John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” has shined the light on deceptive loan practices in several segments, and actually bought millions of dollars of medical debt and forgave every penny in a hilarious “Take that, Oprah!” giveaway moment.  

There’s no need to wait for celebrities, religions or governments, though. Everything begins at the level of you and me. If someone owes you money and you are doing okay without it, forgive the debt. Ask the person you forgave to ‘pay it forward’ and forgive somebody else’s debt.

Did you just feel the excitement as this ‘pay it forward’ sweeps around the world?

The power of debt has debilitated the people long enough. And yet, debt freedom is just the most tangible gift of the Jubilee Year. The Jubilee effect would start by freeing the people from the incredible stress and responsibility of maintaining ownership. Free of the overpowering burden to keep all the plates spinning all the time, people would naturally be more peaceful and forgiving. As we move toward greater and greater levels of sharing, there will be less to argue, fight and go to war about. What began as an economic re-set would become a re-set of cosmic proportions.

Let’s exercise our God-given tool to freedom: let’s Jubilee until we’re free!

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Jubilee Until We're Free!