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Nonviolence Playlets - compiled by Walter Wink - page 15 / 29





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in the one hand, his undergarment in the other.  The tables have

suddenly been turned on the creditor.  The debtor had no hope of winning

the case; the law was entirely in the creditor's favor.  But the poor

man has transcended this attempt to humiliate him.  He has risen above

shame.  At the same time he has registered a stunning protest against

the system that created his debt.  He has said in effect, "You want my

robe?  Here, take everything!  Now you've got all I have except my

body.  Is that what you'll take next?"

     Imagine the debtor leaving court naked.  His friends and neighbors,

aghast, inquire what happened.  He explains.  They join his growing

procession, which now resembles a victory parade.  This is guerrilla

theater!  The entire system by which debtors are oppressed has been

publicly unmasked.  The creditor is revealed to be not a legitimate

moneylender but a party to the reduction of an entire social class to

landlessness and destitution.  This unmasking is not simply punitive,

since it offers the creditor a chance to see, perhaps for the first time

in his life, what his practices cause, and to repent.

     The Powers That Be literally stand on their dignity.  Nothing

deflates them more effectively than deft lampooning.  By refusing to be

awed by their power, the powerless are emboldened to seize the

initiative, even where structural change is not immediately possible.

This message, far from counseling an unattainable otherworldly

perfection, is a practical, strategic measure for empowering the

oppressed.  It is being lived out all over the world today by previously

powerless people ready to take their history into their own hands.

 Shortly before the fall of political apartheid in South Africa, police

descended on a squatters' camp they had long wanted to demolish.  They

gave the few women there five minutes to gather their possessions, and

then the bulldozers would level their shacks.  The women, apparently

sensing the residual puritanical streak in rural Afrikaners, stripped

naked before the bulldozers.  The police turned and fled.  So far as I

know, that camp still stands.

 Jesus' teaching on nonviolence provides a hint of how to take on the

entire system by unmasking its essential cruelty and burlesquing its

pretensions to justice.  Those who listen will no longer be treated as

sponges to be squeezed dry by the rich.  They can accept the laws as

they stand, push them to absurdity, and reveal them for what they have

become.  They can strip naked, walk out before their fellows, and leave

the creditors, and the whole economic edifice they represent, stark


Script:  The female is the creditor, standing on the leader’s left.

They male is the debtor, standing on the leader’s right.  The leader is

the judge.

Judge: “OK, what charges have you brought against this man?”

Creditor: “He took out a loan from me and hasn’t paid it back.”

Judge: “He hasn’t paid anything back?”

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