Sunday afternoon at Friends Meeting at Cambridge, after an excellent presentation on Jobs not Jails, a few hardy souls suggested ideas for this year’s Good Friday leaflet. The theme this year: Jobs not Jails.
It’s always hard to write something collectively, of course. (Especially if you’ve already been sitting at meeting for worship, a potluck, and an hour and a half presentation!) But I’m guessing that for the fifteen or so of us who’d stayed, that we’d been asked to contribute our ideas had been touching and gratifying. (In the past, this yearly leaflet-writing task has always been the sole responsibility of our meeting’s Peace and Social Concerns Committee—to be added to/amended but eventually approved by our monthly business meeting)
Our collectively-difficult writing assignment was made even harder by how much we wanted to say about the criminal justice system! How much there is to say! Yet how much we yearned to raise probing and engaging questions, to not preach, to not get holier than thou, etc. (Our multi-faceted mission was somewhat simplified by the decision to have a table nearby with Jobs Not Jails info sheets, flyers publicizing the April 26th rally, and petitions.)
So here’s a DRAFT of what I’d hope to include in such a leaflet:
On this somber, reflective Good Friday, we gather here to silently bear witness to the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Today we recall that when Jesus preached for the first time, the text was: The Spirit of the Lord God has taken control of me! The Lord has chosen and sent me to tell the oppressed the good news, to heal the brokenhearted, and to announce freedom for prisoners and captives. [Isaiah 61:1]
We are moved to ask:
Are not all people—people of conscience, taxpayers, residents of our deeply interdependent communities, those behind bars and those who love them—oppressed by our unjust, racially disproportionate, and incredibly expensive criminal justice system? Are we not all prisoners and captives?
The United States has 5% of the world’s population yet 25% of the world’s prisoners. What must we do to heal this national brokenness?
Can we talk about getting smart on crime instead of getting tough on crime (especially since getting tough doesn’t work!)
Can we talk about reconciliation? Can we talk about redemption? Can we talk about forgiveness?