This Shalom Report is my invitation to you to be among the first to join a committed community of Jubilee Justice Sowers. More about that below.
First, why do we need such a group?
In the last election, the American people brought together for ourselves just barely enough political will to choose a future of inclusive democracy and harmony with Earth, a jigsaw-puzzle society of unique lives that fit together – not a world of Pharaohs, Plagues, and slaves.
But only barely. Some of us were so desperate, felt so hopeless and forgotten, as to follow a toxic egomaniacal would-be dictator. Either a fuller democracy meets their needs and invites them fully in, or they will in frustration wreck what democracy we have.
The need for humanity to “grow more up” is not new. Three thousand years ago, Torah tried to use a grand-sabbatical rhythm to teach us: Every seventh year, we could release Earth and the poor from oppression. The Torah knew that seven years were not enough. It integrated the seven-year cycle into the seven-times-seven-plus-one cycle of the Jubilee. (See Lev. 25-26 and Deut. 15.)
Today Earth is rebelling with such force as to make clear to us: we have many fewer than 50 years to grow up, but it will not happen in a simple rhythm. The year that begins next fall, next Rosh Hashanah, is by ancient count the year of release – in Hebrew, Shmita. But the whole year will not be enough to heal our wounded climate, to heal the human world so damaged by the COVID 19 virus, to heal the Scourge of Subjugation: of Blacks, Latinx, Indigenes, women, GLBTQIA communities, the immigrants, the sick, the disabled, the poor, the forgotten.
We do not have 50 years to prevent climate chaos, the extinction of a million species, and the human suffering that will go with them. Some of that work has already begun, some could begin even sooner than the next Shmita year, most will take more than yet another seven years. But it will not take 50 years to learn to celebrate the Breath of Life, make Earth and Humanity joyful intertwined partners, make the Song of Songs our Prophetic goal as the Eden for a grown-up human race. We must start now, and give heart to others.
This is how we will start:
- We welcome a committed group as Jubilee Justice Sowers. – to work for Earth and all its life-forms, for all the subjugated human earthlings. We ask you to join in a tentative way: To start, a donation ranging between $18 (for those who can’t afford more) and up to $90, and a commitment of 7 hours of your time a month. During Pesach in 2021 (March 28-April 4), you decide to continue or drop out.
- Our first project: We will start in a myriad different ways working for a national commitment to fund neighborhood solar and wind co-ops of farmers and small-town folk as well as neighborhoods in great cities and suburbs. Sharing policy programs, sometimes but not necessarily personal contacts, between “red” and “blue” Americans.
- Two models for this effort: (a) In areas where at first there was opposition to “Obamacare,” once it actually began people found that it met their needs and the opposition withered. Just so, now: Where now there are furious denunciations of the “hoax” of global scorching, if solar co-ops actually begin people will see their value. (b) In 1930, huge numbers of American farms had no electricity. The New Deal’s Rural Electrification Act transformed rural life by working with new farmer co-ops. Many of those co-ops still exist, and new ones can begin. As happened almost a century ago, today neighborhood-based solar and wind co-ops can embody the future in the present.
- The possibility of energizing folks who live down the road in Arkansas instead of a suspect Federal bureaucrat who appears out of nowhere could make a great difference, and the same dynamic with different faces could make a similar difference in poverty-stricken North Philadelphia.
- The attractions are multiple and diverse: For some, practically free electricity and well-paying jobs; for some, freedom from asthma and cancer epidemics caused by nearby oil refineries or coal dust; for some, healing Earth.
- We who become Jubilee Justice Sowers discuss how to deploy ourselves as best to draw on our unique skills and connections to achieve this result.
By volunteering, you join a work group which works, with help, to figure out what we need to know, how we can help one another, how we choose some steps to build active projects on solar/wind co-ops ( e.g. how they work. what they cost, how they protect participants, why they are important, how to finance them).
The work group also thinks through how to make the co-ops available nationally, everywhere -- for example, how to do outreach to faith communities and organizations to adopt them, sponsor future Jubilee Justice Sowers, organize to encourage supportive legislation, and commit to an ongoing Jubilee effort.
- Some of us explore other such projects: perhaps, for example, a group focused on dietary change and regenerative farming, Earth-friendly sources of protein, urban gardening – instead of factory farms and massive herds of methane-producing cattle.
- We introduce new adventures in intergenerational learning, from transformative theology to activist training. These might begin with the congregational book-conversations now being held for study of Dancing in God's Earthquake : The Coming Transformation of Religion, and plans for a Multifaith Institute for Eco-Justice Activists now being planned by The Shalom Center, Ruach HaAretz, and the Order of the Sacred Earth.
- To join the Jubilee Justice Sowers, please click to register here:
(You will soon be guided to a "Slack" work-place for an initial get-together. "Slack"is an on-line way of carrying on a written conversation among a cooperative group of people pursuing a common project.)
Earth needs us. Humanity needs us. The Breath of Life, the Interbreathing Spirit of the world, needs us. Please join us.
Shalom, salaam, paz, peace, namaste! -- Arthur