Sunday, October 23, 2016

Student Debt, Bully Brains, #MoralMondaysIL

[ source ]
This post is slightly adapted from an invocation prepped for the Tuition Free Illinois gathering at UIC, October 7, 2016.  

Join us tomorrow as Student Action leads us in a rad #MoralMondaysIL direct action in response to the student debt crisis, seeking debt-free education for our youth and our children, and our children's children, achievable through new revenue, and a more just Illinois, as proposed by the People and Planet First Budget, a budget that puts people and the planet first! #MoralMondaysIL - October 24, 4-6PM. 

When I was in high school, 

one day per year there was a day, designated by tradition, 

in which Seniors in the high school 

(because it was tradition, because it had always been that way) 

would bully, harass and torment the freshman. 

“Hazing,” right? "Freshman kill day." 

It was horrible. 

Some freshmen would skip that day, they’d stay home, play sick, 

in order to avoid the humiliation and the bullying brought on by this tradition. 


Somehow, despite the pain, three years later, those same kids, 

the ones who were bullied and bruised, 

would take it upon themselves 


to refute this tradition,

(as one might expect),  



to rejoice.

They would rejoice that they, too, could now be the bullies. 

They would rejoice that they, too, could now beat on and bully the freshman. 

They would rejoice that they, too, could perpetuate this cycle of abuse. 

They would rejoice! 

“I had to go through this,” they reasoned, 

“and now I’m gonna make you all go through it, too!”

Each year, it seemed to get worse, 

each year the cruelty became more extreme. 


Perpetuating a cycle of pain and abuse: 


increasingly worse punishments: 

lack of empathy, because 

“I had to go through this, now you’re gonna get it too!”: 


This is exactly what our society is doing to students, 

here in the US, and here in Illinois, 

to the point at which students, 

newly graduated into a world supposedly ripe with possibilities, 


find possibilities at the other end of the commencement stage, 

but (rather) only the anxiety, diploma in hand, 

of monthly payments, lack of savings, 

and the possibility of a future void of anything like retirement, 

home ownership, 

(for that matter) 

funding their own children’s education sometime in the future. 

I feel that anxiety about the future all the time.  


Perpetuating a cycle of pain and abuse: 


increasingly worse punishments: 

lack of empathy, because 

“I had to go through this, now you’re gonna get it too!”…

“I had student debt! You should get it too!” 

"Quit whining. You deserve debt." This is what people say right? They want you to have debt, because they had debt. (Though nowhere near as much, right?) But this is what people say... 

What a horrible thing to say. 

What a horrible way to think. 

What a horrible way to live.  

It certainly doesn’t make the world a better place. 


As a pastor, as a person of faith, 
and (you know) as a human called to compassion for others, 

I believe that we don’t have to continue perpetuating this cycle. 

In fact, 
[ source

I believe that the God of faith, the Spirit of Joyous Rebellion, calls us 

to break these cycles, 

to interrupt them, 

to smash them, dismantle them, get rid of them… 

to bring down bullies and to bring down the systems that produce them. 

Amen? [AMEN!]

This, I believe, is the work of faith. 

Or, said differently, this is faithful work. 


May  the Spirit of Joyous Rebellion 

inspire us and strengthen us to do just that, 

to do this good work that is set before us, 

to increase our power in coalition,

and to create a world of compassion, 

where our young people can look forward to a 

life free from the chains of debt. 


a world 

where we stop the cycle, 

and start to live. 

Amen? [AMEN!]


Spirit of Joyous Rebellion, 

you call us to disrupt systems that abuse, 

that enslave, that kill, 

that sacrifice the many for the profit of just a few. 

Empower us to do this work. 

Bless this assembly, 

and bless this coalition.     


No comments:

Post a Comment