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Jubilee 2000 could make millennium magic

This is the one and only new millennium for which any of us will be around. We should try to make it matter.

We should exult. However artificial the computation of years and calendars, passing such a big milestone, even an imaginary one, should cause the heart to wonder.

But we should make it more than an occasion to pop champagne corks. Perhaps something special could happen. All that energy focused on a moment, on a day, a year. Maybe it could be turned to some great good.

If any human endeavor is worthy of the occasion it should be Jubilee 2000. If this great plan could be made to take wing, we could make the old world new and change life as we know it. Above all, we could change life as the poor know it. And you know what: The rich wouldn’t miss what it would cost them. So go tell everyone.

As the movement gathers momentum around the country, new creative possibilities will certainly emerge. Meanwhile, here are a few ways to get involved.

  • Contact the Jubilee 2000/USA Campaign, 222 E. Capitol St. NE, Washington DC 20003. Phone: 202-783-3566. Fax: 202-546-4468. E-mail: coord@j2000usa.org. Call or write for resources, organizing ideas, networking contacts. For latest information, log on to www.j2000usa.org.
  • Order the J2K Education Packet, an excellent collection of well-written materials accessible to the committed layperson who is not a professional economist. Information on the debt burden, human stories of its impact, moral and religious reflections, action suggestions for educating and involving your community and resources for further study and action. A fine start for you to become a resource for groups of all kinds on this issue. Send $5 to address above.
  • Circulate the Jubilee 2000 Petition. A copy is included in the packet. Set up discussions and circulate the petition among your friends from work or place of worship, school or college, trade unions, service clubs and community groups, local peace and justice organizations -- wherever you can get a hearing. The goal of 22 million signatures to present to the G8 in Cologne on June 19 is a formidable challenge. Thousands are working on it around the world.
  • Form a small study and support group in your congregation. Using the petition as a focus, connect with discussion, Bible study, youth, adult education groups. As a prayerful and organizing focus, some congregations are beginning to dedicate themselves as a “Jubilee 2000 Congregation.” The education packet contains lots of suggestions for religious and community organizing.
  • Contact policymakers. Write to the president and members of Congress, particularly as details become available on congressional legislation, which will be introduced this year. Also write to the U.S. Treasury secretary and heads of World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (see addresses below). Your letters are important to create political visibility for the issue. They should be brief, expressing your concern about the terrible burden of debt, your support of Jubilee 2000 and its call for cancellation of unpayable debt to give impoverished peoples a fresh start with the millennium.

Some specific suggestions:

The Honorable (Name)
United States House of Representatives/Senate
Washington DC 20220

The Honorable Robert Rubin
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20515

Mr. Michel Camdessus
Managing Director
International Monetary Fund
700 19th Street NW
Washington DC 20431

James Wolfensohn
The World Bank
1818 H Street NW
Washington DC 20433

Efforts to preserve the ancient art heritage of the Zuni people are interesting and worthwhile. Anybody who wants to help the Seowtewas, the family working on the project, can send checks made out to the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Cultural Center, PO Box 1009, Zuni N.M. 87327. Mark the check for the “old mission mural project.” Donations are tax-deductible.

-- Michael Farrell

National Catholic Reporter, March 26, 1999