Archives for category: Testimonies

by Harold M. Frost IV

The American policing, legal, and penal systems are badly in need of revolutionary reform; the current system is an inhuman and inhumane monstrosity. The currently existing cruel injustice system must be reformed according to principles of love, compassion, and fairness, in order to provide for keeping society safe and secure without violating peoples’ human rights and civil rights.

Policing in America needs reform! Police must protect and serve, and enforce what is right, and not brutalize and oppress people, and not be guardians of a cruel and unjust status quo. Police officers should be highly trained professionals; they should all have four full-time years of training, including training in law (including Constitutional law) and in how to be loving and compassionate in the execution of their duties, as well as necessary training in other aspects of policing; and they should be paid accordingly. This should be phased in over a fifteen year period. They must not harass and oppress and disproportionately arrest people of color. All cops who are racist, homophobic, misogynistic, egotistical, violent, or cruel should be fired at once, and be given three months’ wages severance pay (for the sake of their families). “Stop and frisk” policies must immediately end, and police must not interfere with peoples’ right to demonstrate and protest.

The legal system also needs reform. Draconian laws and mandatory minimum sentencing must end, and be replaced by laws that are both fair and merciful. No person should be subjected to excessive punishment. Marijuana must be legalized, and the “war on drugs” must end. The drug problem should be dealt with by education, treatment, and providing meaningful opportunities for all people, not by policies of mass incarceration. Mass incarceration must end! America imprisons more of its people than almost all other countries- this must end! It is unacceptable that people of color are disproportionately sent to prison. A great many prisoners should be released immediately, and some of those on house arrest/probation/parole should be released from the system. Prosecutors should only prosecute cases where a person is probably guilty, and they must not withhold evidence that would be in favor of a defendant. Jurors should be permitted to vote according to their consciences, and they must have the right of jury nullification (that is, to refuse to convict if they deem a law to be unjust in general or unjust as applied in a particular case). Defendants must be provided with adequate and competent counsel in all criminal cases. Capital punishment must immediately end; it is barbaric.

The prison system as it exists now is very cruel and barbaric and must be reformed. Loving rehabilitation must replace cruel retribution. Prisoners must be loved—this will in most cases make them better people. Prisoners should not be deprived of any necessity, including adequate and competent dental and health care, and they must not be mistreated in any way. All prison guards and wardens who are cruel, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, violent, or egotistical must be fired at once and be given three months wages severance pay, for the sake of their families. Prison guards should all have four years training, including training in love; this should be phased in over a fifteen year period. Solitary confinement is extremely cruel, and must end immediately.

If the above changes are made to the American system of policing, and the legal and penal systems, our country would be a better and more humane place, and there might even be less crime. Let us all fight for the cause of love, in these and all things, for the betterment of our country and our world!

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by Bernice McCann

It has been three years now since the Millennial generation, mainly, woke up the world by publicly exposing the stranglehold that corporations and big money have around the poor, the environment, and the economy—and their pervasive, destructive influence on all American life. The young people undauntedly defied all authority by calling Wall Street to account for its abandonment of the common good. There often are persistent whispers that Occupy had its day—however, this could not be further from the truth. The spirit of Occupy has taken a permanent foothold in America. As the younger generation pieced together the ravenous toll the money changers have had on the empire, they also forged an educated, loving, indelible bond among themselves, both in America and countries abroad, and they have stalwartly begun to set aright the ship which attempts over and over to sail through this upside-down world as if nothing is wrong. This generation will not comply with old formulas while they adjust to business as usual. They are the first generation to galvanize the necessary change towards a more egalitarian society, perhaps because their student loans and the economy spiraled so out of control they were one of the groups who were hit hardest.

The surprising impact this has had encompasses people all across the country and the world, for they vehemently work toward not only a more just nation but a more just world. Their numbers were seen recently in the great climate march, where the concern was the development of respect for all creation. The value of the digital age in organizing cannot be underestimated.

For some, the spark for the necessity of a radical spirituality has been on fire ever since Occupy—a spirituality that encompasses those aspects of humanity, which aid in the development of strong minds, strong egos, strong communities, and most importantly inclusivity and community. They are eager for threads of wisdom they can glean from their elders so they can move forward in a new direction, recognizing the present economic paradigm is part of the problem. They are also keenly aware, however, that they are forging uncharted territory. They are quite clear that we have to start from the bottom and find new ways to love one another in a manner that includes all people. Unquestionably, all the structured religions have failed on this point, and clearly the governmental structures are broken.

However, most know not to throw the water out without saving the baby. Anyone can read the great spiritual classics, and many of the Millennials that I know have a deep sense of spiritual matters and a driving activism. Thomas Merton eventually recognized that contemplation without active engagement in our inner cities fell short of the goal. As he developed a vocabulary from pacifism to gospel nonviolence, his peers locked on and a voracious spirit of active nonviolence rose to the fore. This was actualized by Dan Berrigan and a legion of young Catholics and Jews who, like Egal Rodenko from the War Resisters League, marshaled the troops leading them away from the war mentality, giving them other options.

The Millennials are keenly aware that they are not the source of an unquenchable urge to move forward for a greater good. Their task, however, encompasses far more than taking on the local demonic giant in the inner cities or a specific war. Community structures have failed them because they were not built on the first commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. When Occupy was going on, I was immediately struck by the biblical overtones of Jesus and his anger finally erupting in the temple to throw the moneychangers out. Just as this was the first public expression of Jesus towards the establishment, so too Occupiers are feeling that same drive to dismantle an system which does not include all. As a practicing Catholic, I can only take their side, and I must encourage them to go forward in every new way.

A clear result of the negative impact that our present structures in our government and our churches is that most of the young black and Hispanic youth in this country have been left out. The Millennials who realize this are pursuing a more just system. This is a particularly hard task as they must become self-aware of their privileged status and recognize that much of their benefits have been built on the evil of slavery. The impact continues to this day.

They have relentlessly pursued their hopes for a better world—one that is chosen by adherence to higher principles, not submission to principalities. Rather than relying on a world being run by money and war and obsession with overwork, they have chosen to act out of love and compassion for the struggling people of the world who they see are being crushed by greed and an economy that has failed its people.

At the Synod on the Family, Pope Francis has recognized these points of life and light and has joined his voice to the growing sea of activists who are reaching out across all cultural borders world wide to recognize our common suffering as they seek to change the tide of pessimism, complacency, and despair. This refusal to believe that things must remain the same has been actualized already in countless positive actions which collectively are defining a new spiritual awakening.

While the news channels across the country continue to spin their monotonous drone about wars, battle readiness, massive military spending, deficit spending, and nuclear-armament building, the groundswell among Millennials and peace organizations that have evolved from all world religions is heading in a far different direction. These voices for peace are mobilizing across the globe over through the Internet. But let’s talk about the most recent and pressing scenario in this country—the legacy of racism, the distressing stalemate in Ferguson, Missouri.

The large group of activists I have spoken with, many from across the country, who have been on the ground in Ferguson, are clear on the root causes of this seemingly intractable situation. The community is calling for the indictment of Officer Wilson. From the community’s viewpoint the line has been drawn, and it is clear that there will be more violence in part due to the inability of the police department to listen and grasp the intricate details of what has led to the resistance in the first place. This is the necessary continuation of the civil rights movement, which by no means ended with marches in the streets in the 1960s. Today we have experienced a new more devious and systemic racism that has resulted in the crucifixion of the black males in the inner city. The racially segregated community in Ferguson, with high poverty and unemployment, poor student achievement in overwhelmingly black schools, oppressive policing, abandoned homes, and community powerlessness, has yet to give up hope of a better America where all are treated fairly. At the heart of this movement is the deep love black mothers have for their sons who have been crippled by systemic racism while everyone in America is scrambling to keep up with the economic divide.

Mass incarceration is the answer, say the police. This archaic form of thinking has resulted in a country whose greatest value, freedom for all, has been defined as freedom for some if you do things our way. Did it never occur to anyone that doing things our way has created a giant mesh of institutionalized racism which continues to permeate the entire country? The issues in Ferguson are a microcosm of the entire country, which must begin to listen to the teachers and spiritual leaders who have been raising the alarm continually while white America appears to dismiss the content of their words. The problem has already been clearly spelled out by people like Michelle Alexander, Cornel West, the Rev. Sekou, and a litany of other activists across the country who understand what needs to change and have spoken profusely on the issue. So why are our government and people in power not listening?

Understanding the root causes would go a long way toward solving the problem. It is not an intractable situation. Currently, there is a lack of meaningful choices for the black community in Ferguson. We have, as a nation, the capacity for changing that. There are models throughout the country that can be cited as examples of how to build viable communities and to provide more choices.

The problems that we all share in this country will not go away by using the same tactics that caused the problems in the first place. The police, for instance, must reach out to the plethora of groups well versed in applying nonviolent principles and procedures to conflict resolution. This should be the primary task in Ferguson at the moment. There are people working within the community night and day doing this. They are doing their part. They are frustrated within the community and have, for the past 90 days, talked through their frustration.

This is not rocket science. There are definite changes that must be made in Ferguson and throughout the country. We continue to make mistakes around massive racial inequalities but can we move toward taking concrete positive steps to solve the problems together. I see the police and many in the white communities as culpable here because of their intransigent negativism. There have been very successful inner city community models despite the naysayers. The New Settlement Community Campus in the Bronx, New York, has already developed a viable, working model. Why isn’t this being used throughout the country? Where are the plans for more daycare facilities, community centers with real options for the youth, educational facilities that include swimming, dance studios and medical services? Where are the plans for developing better Fergusons, and who is making those plans? Continued reliance on old government, church, and military structures ripe with racism will get us nowhere. But to plug into the hundreds of thousands of Millennials and community organizers around the country might help.

by Harold M. Frost IV

The maleficent monstrosity of mass incarceration
Is a perverted poison of our sick society
A poison perpetrated by impious politicians
And by miserable meanspirited people
Whom they pitifully and pathetically pander to
It is a terrible evil, a callous cruelty
Mass incarceration as an instrument of social policy
In America is a cancer, is a cruel crime
Against the unfortunate poor and people of color
And many others also in our country
Prisons as they now exist are extremely evil
Places of abuse, cruelty, torture, and deprivation
Of fundamental human needs, human dignity, and human rights
Solitary confinement is a terrible torture
Perpetrated by prisons against poor prisoners
And private prisons are an abject abomination
Greedy corporations therethrough profit off of suffering
America and its people must wake up to these evils
And demand an end to this mass incarceration
An end to the nefarious New Jim Crow
And an end to all forms of cruelty
Cruelty to poor prisoners, as well as
Cruelty to the poor, animals, and the unborn
Let us build a Jubilee Society of Love
Rehabilitate with the power and light of love
Instead of oppressing and puerilely punishing with prisons
The masses of people must turn to God’s love
And rise up peacefully to promote love
Rise up to force the system to change
For the benefit of all people in our country

by Harold M. Frost IV

Global warming and climate change are terrible, possibly even existential, threats to our Earth, and to us humans who depend upon our Earth for sustenance, and to human civilization. Science is clear that global warming is real, in spite of whatever the “climate deniers” may say. Those who deny climate change at best are ignorant, and at worst are speaking and acting maliciously to benefit special interests such as the fossil fuel industry, who care only about their profits, and who care not for the future of human civilization and life on Earth. Many politicians pander to these special interests. And the “Christian Right” denies climate change; but they are hardly experts when it comes to science, and they are not even very Christian when it comes to what they say and what they advocate for- many of them are downright mean and hateful, and they agitate for the politicians they support to make policies that are bad for the poor, as well as bad for the Earth.

Human civilization has waited far too long to deal with issues relating to climate change, and because of this, because we as humans don’t have the liberty of any more time to act, immediate and drastic action is needed. We as a species must immediately slash fossil fuel use, and as rapidly as possible convert to renewable energy. While this conversion is taking place, some use of fossil fuels will be necessary, but they should only be used for the production and delivery of essential goods and services. Travel and electricity use will have to be reduced. Consumption of animal products in wealthy countries will have to be substantially reduced. No more commuting for doing financial-sector jobs that just push money around, and don’t actually produce things or services people use. All of this is incompatible with capitalism, obviously, so capitalism will have to end, for the sake of humankind and its Earth, and it will have to be replaced by a radically different system. Some will call for socialism or communism. I believe a jubilee system (with no money and the forgiveness of all debts) would be best. Others have come up with similar ideas, such as contributionism or Ubuntu. Check out www.freeworldcharter.org (they want a moneyless society). Any system that replaces capitalism will have to be democratic, fair, loving, and compassionate, and this love and compassion will need to be extended to all people, including the unborn, as well as to animals. May there be a peaceful, lawful, and spiritual Revolution of Love! Let us all turn to God and love Him, each other, and our Earth which He made for us. Let us all, in a spirit of love and solidarity, transcend the base, cruel, unjust and destructive capitalist system we are part of, and let us quickly make the world a Jubilee of Love!

by Harold M. Frost IV

Abortion is indeed a horrible evil, and it must end, in America and around the world. Those who are pro-life must effectively bear witness to the reality of what abortion is (the killing of an unborn human being) and must lovingly lead society away from this heinous practice. Part of being both effective and loving is to avoid being meanspirited, and to be consistently pro-life. People must embrace the Consistent Life Ethic- that is, to be against not only abortion and euthanasia, but also to be against unjust war, capital punishment, and the destruction of our planet Earth, and to be for helping the poor and upholding the dignity of every human being, born and unborn, without exception. The pro-life movement, in order to appeal to a broader base of people, needs to abandon radical right-wing extremism. Pro-lifers should follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, who taught love and compassion, instead of the teachings of Ayn Rand, who advocated a mean philosophy of selfishness. We pro-lifers can’t with integrity tell women not to have abortions, while at the same time trying to cut programs woman need to give birth to their babies and to raise them and care for them. Above all, we must be loving. Our churches must really be communities of love (see Acts) and must proselytize the message of love, to help people and to transform our society from being an unloving Culture of Death, to being a loving Culture of Life. We must all pray, for mercy, for an end to the Culture of Death, and for love to prevail in our troubled country. Also, we should fast from time to time for these things. Pro-lifers must not be hateful or meanspirited towards anyone- not prisoners, not gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered people, not the homeless, not alcoholics and other addicts, not anyone. We all must practice love in all of our affairs. If we pro-lifers really practice love, and love God above all things, and love ALL our brothers and sisters in the human family, then will the terrible juggernaut of the Culture of Death be ended in America. Love! Pray! Fast!

By Susan Wilcox, CSJ

Today, I spoke with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries in front of the Shirley Chisolm Post Office at his “Congress on Your Corner” event. My congressman votes pretty much in line with my politics in the limited way that politics operates, except on the issue of aid to Israel.

I’m in agreement with the United Nations and most of the world community that Israel has violated international law and committed war crimes with its siege on Gaza. I referenced a speech that he gave at a pro-Israel rally held in New York this week in which he announced, “Brooklyn is for Israel!” I told him I took issue with his statement because I have spent time at Brooklyn For Peace’s 10+ day vigil at a park in my neighborhood. And as I talked with people, they don’t seem to be “for Israel.” They are mostly either horrified at the atrocities committed by the Israeli Defense Forces, or they are ambivalent, stating that they don’t really know the facts. Brooklyn for Peace, many of whom are Jews themselves, have helped with this educational deficit and have collected over 1,500 signatures from neighbors asking the US government to de-fund the over-$3 billion aid package to Israel.

I also reported to Congressman Jeffries that when Israel-Palestine is framed in terms of a giant gentrification project, people, “get it” in relation to their own lives. They “get it” because Brooklynites are laying seize to massive displacement under gentrification especially in neighborhoods of color backed by NYPD’s “Broken Windows” and Stop, Question, Frisk policies. He responded that he had not been exposed to that framing of the issue and did find it interesting. However, his policy decisions were based on that fact that he represented a large section of Russian Jews in Brooklyn who are in support of Israel; that Hamas was a terrorist organization incapable of negotiation toward a two-state solution; and that Israel had a right to protect itself. I took issue with his analysis that all of the most knowledgeable experts in the region advocate for a two-state solution, of which he did not argue further — but asked me, what would I suggest?

I suggest moving away from this very black-and-white, binary point of view to a deeper and longer point of view. An example of a deeper analysis is that Hamas is essentially a creation of Israel, just as most of what we in the US term “terrorists” are creations of the entities that oppose them. He actually agreed with me on this. By this, I mean that when circumstances are created by powerful authorities whose stated goals are to displace or eradicate a people based on race and/or religion, one can expect organized, uncompromising anger as one form of resistance. Also, importantly, international law allows that people under “foreign and colonial domination” have the right to armed resistance. We should expect that the creator of this situation bears a larger burden of responsibility in terms of a creative non-aggressive response. I indicated that automatic support for the Israeli occupation was waning among young people, and I that I personally would work to stretch that binary view.

The longer view I suggest is one of putting this issue within the context of the Global Climate Crisis. This region of the planet is already a desert and research shows is going to get hotter with less and less access to water. None of the historical arguments for rights to the region are going to matter if it’s inhabitable. And does anyone dispute in this future scenario, that poor people of color will be left with the mess while wealthy white people will find a homeland elsewhere?

by Harold M. Frost IV

In this essay I will propose a communistic system for society, but although it is communistic, it is NOT atheistic, as was old-style Soviet communism. And I do not propose to force it on people against their desires; what I envision is instead for society and its people to evolve towards being more and more loving and compassionate, and more loving of God, so that eventually a communistic system would be established, by the free choice of the people.

The ideal society would have an economy based on Love instead of money, and the principles of “one for all and all for one” and “from each according to his/her abilities and to each according to his/her need” are the best principles for society to be based on. In this essay I will propose and outline a socio-economic system that I call jubileeism, which would be based on Love, which would eventually have no money, and which would operate based on the above principles. Basically it would be Christian communism- an alternative to capitalism, fascism, and atheistic communism. Although it would be based on Christian principles of mercy, love, compassion, charity, and goodness, IT WOULD NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST OR EXCLUDE NON-CHRISTIANS; all people of all faiths should love each other and work together for the common good. Capitalism is a system based on scarcity, exploitation, inequality, injustice, and excess consumption. Excess consumption is proving to be very bad for our planet Earth, and our society is poisoned by greed, materialism, and injustice. The world may not be quite ready for a moneyless economy, but the day may be coming when scarcity and exploitation will be as out of date as feudalism is today. Scarcity may become a thing of the past, especially if advanced nanotechnology (assemblers, replicators, etc.) is developed. Proper development of existing and to-be-developed technologies has the potential to usher in an age of plenty for all humankind. Science and technology will continue to advance. The question then becomes: Will all people benefit fairly and equitably, or will wealth continue to be concentrated in the hands of exploiters while a great many people suffer in poverty? Jubileeism offers a way for all people to live well. When I say “moneyless economy,” I do not mean merely a cashless economy; I mean no money of any sort, not even RFID-based electronic accounting of funds (that would be very dangerous for freedom). And I do not mean a barter system.

Jesus commanded all people to love God and to love each other; He commanded all people to love all other people unconditionally and without exception. And He commanded all people to not make an idol out of wealth and money. Jesus said to a rich man “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven” (Matthew 19:21). Yes, we need clothes, household furnishings, and maybe a car in order to live, but as long as there are people in dire need, we should not have excess wealth. Whatever wealth and possessions a person does have should inasmuch as is practical be shared with others. As long as there are people in need, it is wrong for the super-rich to have multiple mansions. Those who do should sell all of them except their principle residence, and give the money to charity, or otherwise make them available for good purposes. As long as there is need, those who are able should let the poor and homeless stay with them. As for myself: I risked eviction from a small apartment I lived in from 2004 to 2010 to let homeless alcoholics stay with me. And I let needy people stay with me on other occasions. However, justice and decency requires me to tell about an instance in which I uncharitably and obstinately refused to allow a needy person to stay with me, even though it was a bitterly cold Vermont winter night; I was following the advice of a person who prior to that occasion told me that I should tell the needy person to leave my apartment (I had let him stay with me before for a short time). Looking back I see with a broken heart that this person may actually have been trying to be my friend. But I was so used to over a long period of time being taken advantage of, that I interpreted his begging me to let him in as just another instance of someone trying to take advantage of me. I am very, very sorry for this. B.K.L., please forgive me. I tell this to you now lest B.K.L. come forward and accuse me of my terrible meanness, causing me to lose all credibility as an advocate of love and compassion. I really want someday to personally apologize to B.K.L., and to be reconciled with him. And I grieve over all the times I have been hurtful to other people: To all of you out there whom I have hurt in any way, know that I am very sorry and desire reconciliation with you. And to all of those who have hurt me in any way, know that I forgive you and desire to be your friend.

The early Christians shared everything and gave to the poor. See Acts 4:32-35: “The community of believers was of one heart and one mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.” Think of how much better things would be if everyone shared what they had, so that no one lacked for a necessity! Think of how much better things would be if everyone loved each other and there was no hatred, indifference, cruelty, or war! But for things to get better, people must turn to God, reform their lives, and pray for love and mercy. With God all things are possible, but without God nothing good is possible. And as long as there is sin, there will be suffering. Justice demands it.

Just imagine- a society with no money. If there was no money there would be no debt; there would be no banks, insurance companies, or stock markets. There would be no hedge funds. There would be no need for bill collecting, accountants, cashiers, etc. There would be no casinos or taxes. And there would be no advertising or annoying calls from telemarketers, and less wasteful “junk mail.” There would be no more scams and no more ripoffs. Think of all the work regulating the flow of money that would be eliminated! The people now engaged in this sort of work could instead be put to work doing more productive and beneficial things. This would include the production of goods and services that people actually need and want, such as public works projects, teaching and mentoring, caring for the elderly and disabled, and engineering and scientific endeavors. More could be done with less person-hours worked, so people wouldn’t have to work as much as they do now under our current money-based system. Without money, life would be much better; many would be freed from living a rat race. To those of you now engaged in activities relating to the handling of money, do not think your work has been wasted. In the grand scheme of things, all work that is well done is rewarded spiritually, if one is open to spiritual graces.

But how could this be? How could it be possible to have a society without money? I think that it is possible, if society evolves towards being more loving and socially responsible. It would all be based on a great social contract, enforced by Love and civic values that would flow therefrom, in which people give of their talents as they are able, for the production of goods and services and for doing necessary tasks, and in return receive whatever they need or reasonably want for free. Some system would be needed for matching people with jobs, based both on peoples’ talents and the need for work to be done. While there might be some bums who will take advantage of this system, I believe that most people, as a matter of personal pride and for self-actualization, want to be productively employed, so I think this jubileeist system could work, at least if people turn to God and pray and become more loving; this would lead to the civic-mindedness that would lead the vast majority of people to do their fair share and to not overconsume. Having a few bums who abuse the system would not be anywhere near as bad for society as the current situation with our money-based system in which a wealthy few exploit the masses while the poor suffer and the middle-class struggles, and in which there are people who are destitute and/or who lack access to health care. A big part of our current money-based economy consists of monetary manipulation that benefits no one except for a wealthy few, at the expense of everyone else. Mostly, everything would be freely distributed without restriction, but the distribution of goods and services that remain scarce and/or difficult to produce may have to be restricted. Whatever bureaucracy would be required for this surely would be much less burdensome on society than what prevails under a money-based system.

Advanced nanotechnology, and other technologies, could end scarcity for ordinary goods and services (even with current technology, all people could have their needs met). It would make no sense to restrict distribution of goods and services that are easily produced by machines, microscopic or otherwise. But what about intellectual property (patents, copyrights, etc.)? Intellectual property rights must not be used as an excuse to deny people a need. A glaring example of this is the many people in poor countries who have died and are dying of AIDS, because they can’t afford to pay for patented antiretroviral HIV drugs. The powers-that-be who are responsible for this situation are going to have a lot to answer for! As long as capitalism continues, owners of intellectual property have a right to reasonable monetary reward, but this right does not include the right to deny anyone something that is an essential need because of inability to pay. Those who can pay should pay; if someone is unable to pay, the owner of a patent isn’t going to get any money anyway, so the person in need who is unable to pay should have their need met, as in the example of an HIV/AIDS patient in Africa or elsewhere in need of antiretroviral therapy. Under jubileeism, everyone would get what they need and reasonably want, anyway, so there would be no need to have copyrights and patents.

Think of the advantage of all health care (including mental health and developmental services, dental and eye care, etc.) being totally free. Think of all the unnecessary and wasteful work that would be eliminated by virtue of it being free. There would be no billing or claims processing, and no wasteful bureaucracy, and doctors could spend more time taking care of their patients instead of dealing with insurance companies. The private insurance company and Medicaid and Medicare bloated bureaucracies could be eliminated!

Jubileeism would be a system in which all people who wanted to would be liberated from lovelessness, and life would be a constant Jubilee and love-fest. Imagine everyone loving each other, there being no lovelessness or unloved people. Life would be so much better! If life revolved around God and love, instead of money, the desire for excess consumption would go away. For jubileeism to work, people would have to turn to God and trust in Him. People would have to repent of their consumerism, materialism, godlessness, and other sins, and pray for forgiveness, and for the graces of living good lives and doing God’s will. Christians must have a personal relationship through prayer with the Lord Jesus Christ, and non-Christians who believe in God must have a personal relationship through prayer with God as they know Him. People who do not believe in God must repent of their unbelief. If people were open to God and had a prayer life and tried to do God’s will, then jubileeism would work. Let us all love God and each other!

How would the production of goods and services be regulated? Presently under capitalism the “free market” regulates the production and distribution of goods and services. Some mechanism would be needed to replace this. Perhaps it could work like this: People would order what they needed through the Internet or through other means, or just go to a store and take what they need, or go to a restaurant, bar, movie theatre, etc. and receive whatever services they wanted. The businesses would order from factories and suppliers, who would provide the goods to them. Remember, everyone would be working for free, in exchange for getting whatever they reasonably want for free. Goods, services, and labor all would be free. This would be the beauty of jubileeism.

Some other principles of jubileeism: All forms of cruelty must stop, including capital punishment and cruelty to prisoners and animals. Society must stop using mass incarceration as an instrument of social policy. The whole criminal justice and correctional system must be thoroughly overhauled and oriented toward rehabilitation where possible, instead of cruel retribution. The manner in which trials (both civil and criminal) are conducted must change. As it is now, guilty people go free, while the innocent are incarcerated, or even executed. The adversarial system needs to be modified to make it fairer, and discrimination against minorities and the poor in arrests and prosecutions must stop. Society does definitely have a right to sequester dangerous criminals, but this must be done in a thoroughly humane way. Marijuana must be legalized, and in general the drug issue should be dealt with as a public health matter instead of a criminal justice matter. War is evil and must be stopped. Nations must wage peace instead of war. Wealthy countries must do what they reasonably can to help poor countries. The Earth’s environment must be carefully and diligently protected, and in particular, action is urgently needed with regard to the issue of global warming; whatever needs to be done must be done by all countries: greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation must be curtailed drastically, absolutely as soon as possible. Abortion is a terrible evil; it is the killing of an unborn human being, and it must stop. Human life starts at conception. It is indeed unfortunate that at this time in America the pro-life movement is dominated by mean and hypocritical right-wingers. But there are more progressive-minded pro-life organizations — there is an organization called Consistent Life, which advocates for the Consistent Life Ethic (their website is www.consistent-life.org ) and there is even a gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered pro-life organization called PLAGAL (Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians; their website is www.plagal.org). Under jubileeism, women and their babies, along with everyone else, would have their needs taken care of, unlike the situation that prevails under our current money-based system.

Jubileeism is a much more just, loving, humane, and compassionate, as well as more efficient system than the haphazard and callously unjust and cruel capitalist money-based system we live under today. I believe that jubileeism is the wave of the future. Love God! Love one another!

by Harold M. Frost IV

God is love, and all love ultimately comes from God. Love is the divine essence, and it is an emanation of God. God is all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful, and as such, in spite of all the evils that exist in the world as a result of humanity’s rejection of God’s way of love, God’s love is destined to completely prevail, and ultimately the world, and indeed the entire Universe, will be completely transformed by love. All of us must live according to God’s way of love, and love God and each other; in doing thus we will help usher in a new age of universal love.

What is love, this divine essence? It is a spiritual substance that takes various forms. In its purest and most concentrated form, it is the substance of God, and it gives rise in God to all of the divine attributes- infinite love for all people, infinite mercy, infinite knowledge, infinite wisdom, and infinite power. Yes, love is very powerful. Only in God is this power infinite, but love does also give us humans a great degree of power to bring joy and happiness to each other, and to make the world better. If only all of us loved God and each other fully- then the world would be a paradise. God showers all of us with love; we all must love God in return and be channels of that love by loving all our fellow human beings. The love that we give and receive between us humans is a spiritual substance that brings joy and that gives rise to good intentions; when we love someone, we want what is best for them- we want them to be happy in this world as well as in the next. Love conquers fear, hatred, and indifference.

Love is a transforming force for people and for society, if only we will accept it and cooperate with it. By being open to God’s love for us we can overcome our sin and our selfishness, and we can become more loving. Part of loving each other is forgiveness; we are called to forgive each other. We must forgive each other, because all of us have failings and need forgiveness and mercy from God. If all of us become more loving and forgiving, and sincerely turn to God, Who is the source of all love, then will the world be transformed! There will then be no more hatred, meanness, or indifference, and all people will be loved, and the world will become a Jubilee of Love!

If all of us truly loved each other, we would collectively see to it that all people have their basic needs met- their needs for food, housing, healthcare, and love. And we would be concerned about each other’s spiritual needs- we would pray for each other. And we would stop destroying our Earth, which we all depend on for our material sustenance, and we would properly address the problem of global warming. And, here in America, we would end mass incarceration as an instrument of social policy, and end all cruel treatment of prisoners. And, we would include the unborn among those we love; abortion is a profoundly unloving practice, and it must stop. We cannot call ourselves truly loving if we kill our unborn babies.

Our society, including our churches, needs to be totally transformed by a peaceful Revolution of Love. Here in America this Revolution of Love must be within the law and within the Constitution. This Revolution of Love must start in many individual hearts; we must turn to God and live according to His way of love, and that means in part to try to avoid sinning. (I have sinned, and I have hurt and offended people, as well as God, and I beg forgiveness from God and all whom I have hurt or offended; I am sorry). We all must pray to become more loving and virtuous, and we must pray for each other. We must reach out in love to the suffering, the lonely, and the marginalized.

People should form groups committed to love and spreading love and promoting the cause of love. I suggest that each group have no more than fifteen people in it, loving each other, praying for each other, bearing witness to love by advocating good and loving policies to their elected representatives and others, and reaching out in love and helping people in need, and spreading the Gospel message of love, forgiveness, and salvation through Jesus Christ. People in these love groups should contact everyone they know and encourage them to start love groups, and people in those groups should contact the people they know, etc., so that there will be a vast proliferation of these groups in our country, so that there will be a total transformation of American society. If millions of people participate in this transformation and stand for love, then the politicians on both the left and the right, and the rich and powerful, will have to conform to love in their public acts and policies, and America will be renewed, and there will be love and fairness for all. But remember, God is love and is the source of all love; with God all things are possible, but without God nothing good is possible. The love movement in our country must be centered on God and on godly principles if it is to succeed.

Spread the word! Forward, copy, and distribute this brief essay, so that people will take initiative in doing their part to start love groups, so that a tsunami of love will wash over our great country! If you receive this message, turn to God and try to start a love group, and encourage others to do the same! Let us all love each other and make a transformation of American society!

by Daniel Hong

He told them another parable: The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”Matthew 13:31-32

I’m currently in the second semester of my freshman year in college, which means I was only a junior in high school when the Occupy movement arose in the fall of 2011. Like many of you reading this article, my life changed because of the events that occurred in Camp — the fury of the masses; the democratic process; the global solidarity. And it was by seeing this passion and unity that I broke off from being a mere spectator and began working at my local occupation — in the kitchen, ladle in hand, serving hot food at a Monday night to whoever was hungry. That single action led me to candlelight vigils, police negotiations, a houseless camp, a mayoral campaign, and countless new friendships.

One thing that made my experience unique was the role of faith. I was raised Christian (Korean Baptist), and I believed in the biblical promises of radical social and economic equality. Yet, I grew up in a country where the Word was twisted by the hands of men to mask their greed, status, and hate, as pharisaical fundamentalists dominated the national airwaves and made a mockery of God’s justice by claiming to be it.

Which is why I was all the more excited when Occupy came. For once, there was a movement that reflected God’s true aims of fairness and prosperity for all. It was by this truth that I was able to survive the violence, repression and sabotage our movement received from the ruling class, and the internal discord that ensued afterwards from burned-out, irreligious activists who had no remaining hope.

But there’s something even more recent God gave me that should raise hopes for the Christians of Occupy: his vision for the 1%.

Last November, I attended a three-day conference with my local campus ministry. The theme was “Seeds” — what it looks like to bear fruit for the Lord. One of the parables we studied was that of the mustard seed. Our speaker led a time of listening prayer, asking us to ask God what his “mustard seed” is for us.

Immediately, I saw myself in the financial district in New York. I was but one in a crowd of other believers, from countless churches, ministries, and backgrounds. We stood outside the steps of bank towers, corporate buildings, and the New York Stock Exchange. Right then and there, we began sharing the gospel to the 1% who owned them. We began inviting them to church services and Bible studies to know Jesus. We talked with them, ate with them, prayed with them, and comforted them in their pain. The more we approached them, the more we began seeing their humanity restored, and news of this sent shockwaves to the churches. Bit by bit, they felt remorse about their financial decisions and began to take notice of the consequences. Later, some even felt angry with the system and left Wall Street entirely, coming out in public to reveal the fullest extent of its corruption — fueled by the courage of those who believed in them.

Crazy, right? It took months of praying and seeking advice from my peers before I began searching, calling, and emailing churches in New York City that were involved in Occupy Wall Street to share this exciting vision. I still want to hear from my spiritual brothers and sisters for their response, and if you want to get in touch with me, contact me with the information at the bottom.

All activists face the temptation to be caught in a “us vs. them” mentality — a culture of hate, vengeance, and competition with the opposers. Not only is this spiritually unhealthy, but socially inadequate in finding the solutions that not only fix our problem but also prevent them from repeating. For me, it isn’t enough that there is tolerance (oppositions stop harming one another) or retribution (wrongdoers are punished by how the wronged see fit) in our society. Our society needs reconciliation — the rich and the poor; the ruler and the ruled; the creditor and the debtor. We need reconciliation that closes social distance, and forces opposites to work and acknowledge each other. We need a reconciliation that brings proximity and relationship to the most alienated in our society — both oppressed and oppressor — so they all may thrive.

Daniel Hong is a college student and Occupy activist in Portland, Oregon. In sharing his testimony, he wants to hear what others have to say regarding his vision for the 1%. If you are interested in contacting him, send him an email at hongd@reed.edu or call him at (503) 442-3399.

by Bernice McCann

Have you ever heard a young child say, “Gee, I want to be a prisoner when I grow up”?

I didn’t think so. But for far too many people in the United States today, especially people of color, that is the fate that likely awaits them unless we as a society are willing to act.

Mass incarceration in the United States has reached catastrophic proportions, and it is drawn along shockingly racialized lines. Prisons and jails are overflowing with black Americans — who comprise about 40 percent of inmates, although blacks only comprise 14 percent of the total U.S. population. African Americans go prison for drug offenses 10 times more than whites, even though five times as many whites use illegal drugs. All told, the United States imprisons more of its people than any other country in the world.

This is a crime against humanity. Its cause lies in a conflagration of systems which have been designed through history to favor white and wealthy Americans that goes back to before the founding of the country. Today this continues through negative, inaccurate, rampant distortion of the news and the media, perpetuating the myths that money equals power, that clothes are the measure of a person, that fine dining defines a rich and meaningful conversation, that looking good is equal to good intent, that good education equals entitlement, that a just wage isn’t a right that all workers deserve. We have not come as far from the system that once permitted slavery than we like to think.

The Latino population suffers from the consequences of this system in profound ways as well. While the debate about immigration continues in Congress, we hear very little about the role of mass incarceration in immigration enforcement. Figures from the 2012 United States Sentencing Commission report show that 94.6 percent of non-citizens in prison were convicted of immigration violations. Privatized immigration prisons — whose owners lobby governments to maintain a steady stream of inmates — divide families while keeping human beings in a state of legal limbo, out of sight and out of mind. Around the country we continue to harden our hearts about illegal immigration, enacting laws which have provided legal sanction for arresting innocent people whose only crime is trying to escape crippling poverty and violence in Latin American countries. We have stopped asking how the trade policies we promote and profit from are helping to keep those countries in poverty in the first place, or how our war on drugs spills southward with escalating brutality.

After the abolition of slavery, Southern lawmakers devised the Black Codes in order to ensure the continuation of white supremacy, both politically and economically. These laws governed freed slaves in such a way that would maintain them as a pool of cheap labor. This was followed by the creation of vagrancy statutes, laws that were in place in some states up until the 1970s, which allowed police to charge people who were merely suspected of criminal activity. The “Jim Crow” laws enacted between 1876 and 1965 continued to provide economic advantages to Southern whites at the expense of blacks. While the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s finally ended this regime, the widening gap in wealth inequality is doing an even better job of keeping many black Americans in crushing poverty. Today, too, there are more black men in prison than were enslaved at the start of the Civil War. The recent “Stop and Frisk” policy in New York City continues the legacy.

Make no mistake about it; we are all culpable for maintaining this deeply discriminatory society, often unwittingly. But ignorance is no excuse. Catholic social teaching calls us to concern ourselves in a particular way with the poor and disenfranchised. Our faith demands that we push ourselves toward embracing all people in a society where we can all actualize our love for both family and community. Today, that calling faces no greater challenge in our country than mass incarceration.

To live in a poor, largely minority neighborhood in the United States is to be guilty until proven innocent. It is only continual patience, compassion and love that enables good people in these communities to survive watching their youth swallowed up by predatory policing, dismal schools, environmental hazards and incarceration — often for drug-related offenses that would go unpunished in affluent suburbs — while being excluded from society’s greatest benefits. Families struggle with lack of access to proper day care, substandard health care and mental health services, the need to work overtime to meet their basic needs, inadequate housing, and a poor diet, which is all they feel they can afford.

The problem in the United States is not a lack of knowledge or tools to address these problems. We lack, tragically, the willpower to improve the lives of those who are trapped within a broken system. The problem is not that these people don’t work hard; they have to work much harder than more affluent neighbors just to eek out a living in a system stacked against them.

Ending mass incarceration must address the power structure as a whole. This means not only ending the failed war on drugs’ cruel sentencing laws, or reversing the privatization of prisons and inhumane immigration laws; it also means building affordable housing and developing school and community centers, organizing parents and community groups to demand solutions to failing schools, assuring a fair and just wage for all, enabling kids to attend summer camps, providing college-access programs, making computer and technical training available in every community, ensuring for adequate playground space, establishing youth clubs and tutoring programs, providing after-school programs and affordable day care centers. We know these things are necessary, and yet we are not securing them for too many of our children.

On the first day of last year’s “Fortnight for Freedom” called for by the U.S. Catholic bishops to oppose the Obama administration’s health care policies, I and other members of Occupy Catholics gathered on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York to have our own open discussion about what we deemed the greatest threats to freedom to be in our city, in light of our faith. At the top of the list, we decided, is the threat that the New York Police Department’s Stop and Frisk policy, which disproportionately impacts racial minorities, poses to the freedom from discrimination that all people should enjoy. Since then our small group has been determined to raise our voices, as Catholics, against the evil of mass incarceration.

Lately, we have found ourselves interfacing with other groups that are trying to take on the challenge of mass incarceration. We have found that although there are thousands of people working in this struggle, we are not yet united. Not long ago, I stood on a corner of 215th Street in the Bronx soap-boxing at a rally against police violence, and the organizers were grateful to have a Catholic standing with them. I wondered why there weren’t more.

As a grandmother, I wondered, where were all the other grandmothers were who have been able to share the extraordinary delights of raising and loving their grandchildren? Where are those who strive to imitate Christ’s compassion for the poor and disenfranchised? Catholics must resist laws which continue to perpetuate this broken system. Our faith means nothing without action.

It is time to stand together, to nonviolently urge our society to change. The statistics about mass incarceration tell the story plainly: Our criminal justice system has lost sight of justice and is being used as a system of social control. Let us mobilize our churches, temples and mosques, as well as working with righteous people of no particular faith, to help cut out this blight from U.S. history for good.