Jubilee 2000 - an introduction
Every baby in the developing world owes £300 at birth
In the absence of John Burr, I was asked to attend a meeting of Jubilee 2000. I expected this to be like too many Christian organizations - mere passing gestures. You know - another project, all bright ideas and nothing practical. On the evening in question I would probably not have gone had I not met a friend from another church and arranged to go with her. My inclination was to shut myself away with a book on spirituality and believe I was being holy. In this mood I tagged along to Sherwood Methodist Church.
I can truly say that Jubilee 2000 is the most organized and dynamic group Ive ever been in. The leaders know the sort of questions to ask to get us thinking, and, more important, to discover our own resources. We came away feeling we could do something, and that the evening had been well spent. (The next meeting is at Thomas Helwys Baptist church on November 17th at 7.30pm. If youve nothing else to do, come along, if you have then still come - this will be better.)
Cancelling world debt
The Millennium is fast becoming a boring word, and so many groups are doing something called 2000 it is easy to be confused about what they all mean. Jubilee 2000 is about cancelling world debt. There was this human chain round the G8 conference in Birmingham last May, if you remember. But it isnt a one-off. The problem many of us found was that that weekend had many peoples sympathies, but the following week in church was the feast of St Whodyermeflip, or Sallys baptism - theres another interest and J2 becomes a bit like harvest festival. Weve "done that", now what? The problem for those suffering from the burden of debt is that they can never say theyve "done that". It goes on and on.
An argument against cancelling world debt is that it leaves the released countries open to corrupt governments who will borrow from somewhere else and start the problem all over again. I am informed that J2 does not want to merely cancel the debts and then lose interest, but rather to follow up future progress and have some control to prevent corruption. My own view is that variations on the "if we dont someone else will" is probably the most useful political cop-out ever, and while the wealthy nations are expressing concern about corruption, what sort of system do we call one that allows people to starve with no hope while certain factions stash away more than any ordinary person could earn in a lifetime?
There will be more about Jubilee 2000 in next months magazine. Even more can be found at the back of church, and more still if you come to a meeting.
Jubilee 2000 web-site