Are you in debt?
I am. I have:
$2,000 – consumer debt
$57,000 – student debt
$59,000 – Total debt
You may have less. You may have more. You may have different kinds of debt:
But chances are – you have debt. 80% of the US is in debt.
Debt is a means of control, and often slavery. This should be nothing knew to you. Debt has been a method of power and domination since money was invented. Remember learning about the Feudalism of the Middle Ages? Farmers were indebted to their vassals who, in turn, swore fealty to their lords, or land-lords (which is where the term comes from).
Or how about the indentured servitude found in colonial America? Debtors worked at farms and plantations to pay off a massive amount of debt. They were not paid during this time; their “wage” was only to take another mark off their debt-calendar. And that’s not to mention all the slaves who earned or bought their “freedom” only to be reminded of all the debt they incurred as the slave master had fed them all those years. Now they had to work that off, becoming – yes – an indentured servant.
Debt is a means to enslave another person.
Debt chains us with our wallets.
Debt shackles us with fear.
I didn’t share the details of my debts because I want to brag about how much or little I have. I freely give out that information because, when I do, I become a little more free. Voicing my debt situation fractures the foundations of the fear it imposes.
In my closet I have a special container for very-important-papers. In this container is an over stuffed folder for all the documents related to my student loan debts. Over the years, I printed and saved every information packet and loan application. Every repayment counseling file and estimated schedule. Every 13 page Master Promissory Note and 2 page Addendum To The Master Promissory Note. I saved it all because of that ubiquitous phrase:
“Please keep for your personal records.”
And I did. I was a faithful debtor. I obeyed every word. I followed every instruction and kept every record because I was afraid of missing something in the fine print. If I miss something I may default on my payments, which will wreck my credit rating, which will keep me from buying a house, which will … Afraid.
And then they started sending monthly letters in the mail, saying, “You don’t have to pay anything yet, but here’s what you owe.” Reminder: don’t forget to be afraid. So I kept those too. All of them. I’m 19 and getting a statement for 20 Grand; I can’t screw this up! I can go to prison for this crap. My life will be ruined! IRS! FBI! Citi Bank! … Afraid.
This Saturday, Strike Debt Philly is having a Debt Burning Party [event link]. We’ll gather to burn our debt papers – symbols of the control, domination, and fear that binds us with unseen chains.
“We shall kindle a fire capable of exposing these debt demons and banish them from our lives forever. We encourage you to bring your bills to feed our fire and your story to enlighten us on the tactics of the debt collectors. This is one step in the process of ending Usury and obtaining Debt Jubilee for all.”
I will be burning my letters and statements of debt.
I will be burning my applications and schedules.
I will be burning my contracts and reminders.
I will be burning my fear.
I will still have the financial debt. But I refuse to let my mind be enslaved by the fear of debt-lenders and creditors. I refuse to be dominated and controlled by the people who prey on those who want a home to live in, those who are unfortunate with sickness; those who seek out a decent education.
No one is free while they are afraid.
So I will incinerate my fear and liberate my mind.
We don’t have to be afraid of our debt.
We don’t have to feel guilty about our debt.
* Give voice to the usurious debts imposed on you; encourage others to do the same.
* Solidarity within injustice lends itself away from fear and towards freedom.
* Attend (or host) a Debt Burning Party.
* Check out Strike Debt’s Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual. [free download]
* Pay off $1 of debt for only $0.20 by donating to Rolling Jubilee.
* Let yourself be liberated. Act to liberate your neighbors.