By: Mary Muyia
Watching the closing ceremony of the Olympics, I could not help but feel a sense of harmony between the nations. For the Olympics are a competition, true, but they are also a global unifier – did people from all over the world not root for Usain Bolt, the astoundingly fast gold medal winner from the Bahamas? Or cheer on the two women Olympians from Saudi Arabia, the first female athletes that Saudi Arabia has ever allowed to compete on the international stage? So while national pride is at the forefront of the Olympics, the sportsmanship and unity of all the nations is a strong underlying current.
The closing ceremony also reminded me of the unity echoed a few months earlier when the United Kingdom marked Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. The Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics were a time of great jubilation that came from the UK and affected the world, bringing together people from around the globe to celebrate, watch in awe and unite behind these occasions. While the Diamond Jubilee hit headlines worldwide, here at Jubilee USA, we have been striving towards a very different type of Jubilee.
Inspired by the ancient concept of Jubilee, a time every fifty years when debts owed would be cancelled and right relationships restored, the global Jubilee movement for debt justice that spans in over 50 countries has helped get billions of dollars of poor-country debt cancelled. That money, rather than line the pockets of the already wealthy, can be invested into the people of that nation through education, healthcare and infrastructure and there can be a restoration in right relationships between nations.
While the British celebrated sixty years of history, style and the Queen, and as we cheered athletes onto victory this summer, we here at Jubilee continue to come together for a different purpose - to break the chains of debt, push for the implementation of responsible lending and borrowing principles in international financial interactions and restore right relationships among nations.
Jubilee USA and our global partners have celebrated many milestones achieved thus far [link to the eupdate] and although there was no opening ceremony to usher in the next phase of our work, no spectacular fireworks and no four-day celebration lined with festivities, our work demands worldwide attention as the global debt crisis continues to rage. We see the developing world spending $1.30 on debt repayment for every $1 it receives in grants. Countries, such as the Philippines, El Salvador and Sri Lanka, are still spending one fourth of their revenue on debt repayments.
So, while we watch and experience these times of celebration and jubilation, we should not forget that a true Jubilee, one that ends the cycle of debt and poverty for poor countries, is so very needed. By committing to follow the principles of responsible lending and borrowing, ensuring that low-income countries are not being saddled with increased unsustainable debt and helping to restore right relationships between nations, we are investing in our global future and underscoring the unity of nations that we’ve seen this summer.