Subj:   PT/TP 11-03 Spirit of the Revolution
Date:   11/11/03 11:56:41 PM Eastern Standard Time
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        People's Tribune/Tribuno del Pueblo (Online Edition)
                  Vol. 30 No. 15/ November, 2003

                 P.O. Box 3524, Chicago, IL  60654


by Sandy Perry

"'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord
Almighty." -- Zechariah 4:6.

The year 2003 has brought us a war in Iraq and a recall election
in California. On the surface, it looks as if armed might and
power and money are indeed stronger than spirit. But as a closer
look reveals, and the Bible confirms, military conquest is not the
end of the story, and does not necessarily win the hearts and
minds of the people. The same can be said for the results of our
money-and-media-dominated election process. In the long run, if we
remain faithful to our vision of justice, it is in fact the hearts
and minds that will prevail.  The gloom and doom we sometimes find
in liberal circles seems rather foolish if we compare our times to
those of Jesus. When Jesus proclaimed good news for the poor, they
labored with primitive means of production under the brutality of
the Roman Empire. They had only a fraction of the wealth and
technology available today. If Jesus could announce the coming of
the kingdom of God in these conditions, who are we to doubt it
today in the era of the computer? If values and vision could
transform reality 2000 years ago, how much more can they do so now
when we have the technology to end poverty altogether?

What does this vision look like? This summer I was blessed to be
able to attend a conference at the Woodcrest Bruderhof in Rifton,
New York. The Bruderhof is a small Christian community where
members donate their worldly goods and labor to the group. It then
distributes them on the basis of need, just as Jesus' disciples
did as described in the Book of Acts. The Bruderhof does not have
all the answers, and certainly would not claim to have them, but
it provides an example of what is possible. The important thing is
that they (and others like them) offer a direction, a spirit, and
an outline of the world we are striving to create.

The basis of this vision is the distribution of wealth according
to moral principles, based on compassionate meeting of human
needs, instead of the impersonal market used by today's global
capitalism. Distribution by need was modeled by the early
Christians (and other early spiritually-inspired communities) and
by revolutionaries of various eras ever since. John Woolman, the
eighteenth-century American Quaker, deplored distribution of
wealth that was "contrary to universal love," and dedicated his
life to abolishing slavery, the most glaring and barbaric
transgression of love in his day. Today, the fact that we allow
the existence of poverty and destitution in the midst of plenty is
equally barbaric.

This crisis is not only moral, but economic. Today's rising
homelessness, denial of health care, and declining wages are the
result of corporate globalization. Wages in a global economy tend
to level out over time, with the result that the historic standard
of living of American workers is being eroded. The policies of
Bush and Schwarzenegger are part of a corporate effort to slash
social benefits and programs in order to create enough misery and
desperation to further drive down wages. We cannot resist this
process with simple defensive measures. We cannot go back to the
way things used to be. We have to take the offensive with a vision
of how things should be.

A recent article stated that we have lost 2.7 million jobs in the
last 2 1/2 years. Unlike during previous cyclical recessions,
these jobs will most likely never return. They are being lost to
automation -- the productivity gains of the so-called "jobless
recovery" -- or to "offshoring" of jobs. If our system is not
going to provide work for people, and the salaries necessary to
purchase necessities of life, then it is clear that we are going
to have to move toward a new way to distribute social wealth if
our civilization is going to survive. Historically, it is
precisely at times of crisis like this that it is effective to
reassert the Biblical values and vision: justice, compassion, and
what we today call economic human rights. Rabbi Abraham Joshua
Heschl had a story he told during World War 2. A group of hikers
fell into a pit of snakes that attacked them from all sides. They
desperately fought back, but for every snake they killed it seemed
like ten new ones took its place. One of them stopped fighting and
just stood there looking around. The others yelled at him, but he
answered, "There are more snakes here than we can possibly kill.
I'm looking for a way of escape from the pit for all of us." Going
on the offensive, escaping from the pit, means doing as Jesus did:
single-mindedly serving, healing, organizing, and educating the
people, beginning with those cast aside by the system. It means
building and inspiring an independent movement. We cannot let
right-wing initiatives or recalls dictate our agenda, no matter
how much we may be against them. We have to proactively follow our
vision, because in the long run it is this effort that will turn
back all reactionary projects.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called us to make a choice
because we cannot serve two masters, God and money. This means
recognizing that our economy today rests on and promotes a
systematic disobedience to God -- the love of money condemned by
Scripture. It poisons our soul and divides us from our neighbor.
"People in business are forced to appear different from what they
are," wrote Eberhard Arnold, "for nobody wants to associate with a
beast of prey or a hyena that feeds on carcasses." Making the
choice called for by Jesus means seeing through the lies,
repudiating modern capitalism,  and committing ourselves daily to
the kingdom of God. When we do this we become conscious, we move
from resistance to revolution.

We can take this step as soon as we realize that real wealth does
not lie in external things, glitter, glamor, and fame. Our real
wealth is the gift of life, the sacred spirit within all of us. We
have no need for worldly approval or validation.  We only have to
be true to this spirit. The kingdom of God exists already, as a
vision in our hearts. Each of us is blessed with the miraculous
ability to bring it out and contribute to the building of a world
without poverty, exploitation, and war.

When we take strategic action on the basis of love, not fear --
fear of Schwarzenegger or Bush or anyone else --then we are on our
way to building God's kingdom. Every act of love becomes a victory
and a building block .

[Sandy Perry is outreach director for Community Homeless Alliance
Ministry in San Jose, California. He is also a member of the
National Religious Committee of the League of Revolutionaries for
a New America. The Bruderhof Communities may be contacted at]

This article originated in the PEOPLE'S TRIBUNE/TRIBUNO DEL PUEBLO
(Online Edition), Vol. 30 No. 15/ November, 2003; P.O. Box 3524,
Chicago, IL 60654; Email: [log in to unmask];
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