Sunday, September 17, 2023

giving away $10,000

 Shane Claiborne , in Practicing Jubilee, pp.36-38 in Schools for Conversion, edited by The Rutba House :

“A couple of years ago we had two things happen. First, we won a lawsuit for police misconduct in New York City. The police had been arresting homeless people for sleeping in public, and charging them with disorderly conduct. I was arrested one night as I slept out in protest. Through a long legal process, I was found not guilty and filed a civil suit of wrongful arrest, wrongful prosecution, and police misconduct. And we won, in addition to a legal precedent, around $10,000. We knew it did not belong to me or to The Simple Way, but to the homeless in New York for all they endure. It was their victory. The second thing that happened was that after our study of biblical economics, we had an anonymous gift of $10,000 which had been invested in the Stock Market and now was being returned to the poor. A bunch of us started conspiring, and before long we said: It is time for a celebration of God's Jubilee.’ And where else should we have it but on Wall Street, in the face of the world's economy? This was not a one-time celebration, but an ancient celebration going back to Leviticus 25 and an eternal celebration of the New Jerusalem. We decided to send 100 dollars to 100 different communities that incarnate the spirit of Jubilee and the economics of love. Each $100 bill had ‘love’ written on it. And we invited everyone to Wall Street for the Jubilee.
After months of laughter and dreaming, it really happened.
About 40 people had all the change they could carry over 30,000 coins in bags, coffee mugs, briefcases, backpacks. Another 50 people would be meeting us on Wall Street. A dozen ‘secret stashers’ ran ahead, hiding hundreds of two-dollar bills all over lower Manhattan in parks, napkin holders, and phone booths. At 8:15 we started trickling into the public square in front of the main entrance to the New York Stock Exchange. Word of the redistribution had spread throughout New York, and nearly 100 folks from the alleys and projects were gathered. We had choreographed the celebration like a play production, making Wall Street the stage of our theatrics of counter-terror. At 8:20, Sister Margaret and I stepped forward to proclaim the Jubilee:
‘Some of us have worked on Wall Street and some of us have slept on Wall Street. We are a community of struggle.
Some of us are rich people trying to escape our loneliness.
Some of us are poor folks trying to escape the cold. Some of us are addicted to drugs and others are addicted to money.
We are a broken people who need each other and God, for we have come to recognize the mess that we have created of our world and how deeply we suffer from that mess.
Now we are working together to give birth to a new society within the shell of the old. Another world is possible. Another world is necessary. Another world is already here The money for this Jubilee Celebration was formerly invested in the Stock Market. Over $10,000 has been set free, poured out to be shared with our sisters and brothers in need. This money belongs to the poor, the workers, the refugees, the homeless... to all those who have suffered most from the wreckage of the current system. May we return it with joy, with our heads bowed in repentance, and with our hearts lifted in Jubilee.’
Then Sister Margaret blew the ram's horn (like our Jewish ancestors used to), and we announced: ‘Let the celebration begin!’ Ten people stationed on balconies above the crowd threw hundreds of dollars in paper money, covering the sky. Then they dropped banners which read,
The streets turned silver. Our ‘pedestrians,’ ‘tourists,’ ‘homeless’ and ‘business people ’began pouring out their change. We decorated the place with sidewalk chalk and filled the air with bubbles. Joy was contagious. Someone bought bagels and started giving them out. People started sharing their winter clothes. One of the street-sweepers winked at us as he flashed a dustpan full of money. Another guy hugged someone and said, ‘Now I can get my prescription filled.’
It worked. We had no idea what would happen. We knew it was dangerous, intentionally bringing God and Mammon face to face. But this is precisely what we have committed our lives to. It is risky, and yet we are people of faith, believing that giving is more contagious than hoarding, that love can convert hatred, light can overcome darkness, and grass can pierce concrete.,,even on Wall Street."

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