Saturday, October 13, 2007


So as I was just finishing that last post, the little green man at the corner of my screen told me I'd just gotten an email, from K, the instructor where I roll.

This is what it's like to be me. I thought, Now why would he be sending me an email? The instant answer sprang into my imagination in this form:

Dear Jack H --

It is with regret that we inform you that we must terminate our association with you. We have received numerous complaints regarding your demeanor and conduct, and have been informed that some people have cancelled their membership on your account. This is of course costing us revenue, and as a for-profit business this present action is necessary. Your current payment will be returned to you on a prorated basis. Any personal articles may be claimed by appointment. We must ask that you not return here, however, during regular business hours. We wish you the best in life and in your future BJJ training, and we remain,

Yours Very Truly,


I kid you not. Something like that, in inchoate form. Sort of pathetic, I know. But that's what it's like to be me. This is close to the definition of paranoid.

Instead, this is what he sent, to me and a couple of other guys:

Dear ONE Member,

If you've ever fallen behind on your bills or watched a friend struggle to make the monthly payment on a credit card, you know how devastating debt can be. Now imagine entire countries in the developing world—countries already struggling to lift their people out of extreme poverty—facing mountains of debt they didn't ask for and can't afford to pay.

Across the developing world, from Haiti to Lesotho, countries that should be distributing AIDS drugs, building schools and fighting hunger are trapped by billions of dollars of debt—debt often racked up by corrupt rulers who used the money to enrich themselves and used the future of their terrorized people as collateral.

A bill in Congress would cancel that debt for countries that commit to using the savings for poverty reduction, giving dozens of nations and millions of people a real chance at a better future. That bill is the Jubilee Act, and there is man who is dying to get it passed.

Reverend David Duncombe is taking 40 days off from his day job to walk the halls of Congress, asking our elected officials to support debt cancellation and the Jubilee Act. For 40 days, he's stretching his body to the very limits of human survival to pressure Congress to cancel the debt. And we can help him.

His 40 day fast ends October 17th on the Global Day of Action Against Poverty. That gives us one week to back up his fast with our voices. Let's all take action and send 40,000 letters to the U.S. House of Representatives—1,000 letters for each day of the fast—asking for support for the Jubilee Act and an end to the debt trap.

Debt is the kind of crisis that can hold back an entire continent. Sub-Saharan Africa pays $13 billion in debt service to wealthy nations and financial institutions every year, almost enough to pay for life-saving drugs to reverse the AIDS crisis that claims 7,000 lives each day.

And in 2000, when Tanzania's debt was cancelled, that government was able to eliminate school fees, sending 1.5 million children to school almost overnight.

For 40 days, Reverend Duncombe is fasting and telling our elected officials about the promise debt relief holds for people who are as hungry as he is. We can add 40,000 voices to his by asking our Representatives to support the Jubilee Act and lead on debt cancellation.

On October 17th, as anti-poverty advocates, we're supposed to Stand Up! for the Global Day of Action Against Poverty. Rev. Duncombe may be too weak to physically take to his feet that day. But by sending 40,000 letters we can stand up for him and send the message that debt cancellation is a smart way to fight poverty and a clear example of America's leadership in the world.

ONE by ONE, thousand by thousand, we can give strength to Rev. Duncombe's fast for the Jubilee Act, even as his strength runs out. 40,000 of us can stand up and tell Congress to pass the Jubilee Act and end the cycle of debt and poverty in the developing world.

Thank you for your voice,

Josh Peck,

P.S. Believe in what Reverend Duncombe is doing? Want to help us reach our goal of 40,000 letters in support of his 40 day fast? Take a minute to forward this email to four friends and ask them to support the Jubilee Act, too.


K must think that the other fellas he sent this to have a social conscience honed enough to respond to this sort of thing. For my part, I think it is a good idea, in theory. But I do believe in charity for the deserving poor, only. To forgive the debt of a corrupt or incompetent dictatorship is no virtue.

My response, then, will be to compose a letter urging both compassion and wisdom. We have plenty of money, but none to waste. As for the good Reverend, I wish him well. Maybe he's right. Maybe he is an utter fool. A bleeding heart incompetent who thinks that shoveling money into a grave somehow buys salvation. The money he would hand out is from our taxes, and we work for that money by hours spent toiling away from our families. Money represents the hours of our lives. To waste taxes is to steal time. Life is made out of time. You see the point.

The Reverend? I don't know. Conviction is not the same as wisdom. But he's trying, and any harm he might do is overwhelmingly likely to be to himself, only. Only, that is, if Congress does nothing. If it does something, it might be wise, and it might be foolish. There are no guarantees. If you didn't know that already, take my word for it. I'm the guy who expects betrayal and outrage every time the phone rings or an email comes. For reals.


No comments: