Wednesday, November 9, 2011

To Forgive is Divine - Money Burning 23/10/11

I want you to do this.

I want you to take a £10, £20 or £50 note, or more if you can afford it. And burn it.

If you want to perpetuate poverty, if you like the idea of rich and poor, then give it to charity. 

If you want change, burn it.


This is what actually happens when you burn your cash.

By destroying your paper currency you lose your claim to its value. The debt it represents still exists, recorded in the ledgers of the Bank of England (or whoever else issues it). Burning the note says you’re not collecting the debt.

By burning the note you are forgiving your debtors.

If this seems a little counter-intuitive to you, allow me to give you a very brief history of the Bank of England.

Towards the end of the 1600’s, King William III’s war against France was proving very costly. A Scot, William Patterson thought of a way to raise more money. He reckoned that £1.2 million could be obtained from subscribers to the idea of a ‘Bank of England’. This money could be given over as a loan to help fight the war. In return an interest rate of 8% would be paid from taxes. So, having raised £1.2 million in just a few weeks, the Bank of England was duly formed on 27th July 1694. The bank issued notes to its depositors. If you put £100 in, you had a note saying so. That note also said that anyone presenting it to the bank would be redeemed in gold or coinage. So if you owed someone £100, you could sign your £100 deposit note over to your creditor. He'd accept the note in payment because he’d have faith in the bank’s ability to pay. After all, the bank lent most of its money to the King, and the King had to be good for it. Eventually these notes became the money that I want you to burn.

By the way, the King's debt from 1694, has never been repaid. Every burnt, lost and never found, or other-wise destroyed item of live currency has alleviated a little of the debt burden. Destroying currency is literally offering forgiveness. So when someone says that making a charitable donation is the best thing you can do with your money, you know that's not true. You may think charity is a virtue but you know that to forgive is divine.

Nevertheless, despite the historical evidence, and despite the logic, some will see your burning as a selfish act. Their reasoning is simply this; with the cash you've burned you could have put food on the plate of a starving person. This is true. But its true for every penny that you spend, as well as the cash you burn.

The difference is of course that for every penny you spend you get something in return, whether you're donating to charity or splashing out on a luxury. Even when you tuck £20 into your niece or nephew's birthday card, you want something back. It might just be a ‘thank you’, but you still expect a return on your money. You still expect a little interest. You may be reluctant to accept this now. See how you feel after your sacrifice.

There is only one pure gift you can give and that is to burn your money. Those who set themselves against your sacrifice are really only saying one thing, “why don’t you give it to me?”

On the 23rd of October 2011 I released the Bank of England from the promise made in notes EE45 406557 and HD02 163519 to each pay the sum of ten pounds sterling to the bearer. These notes will never be presented for payment. This is my fourth year of offering money burning sacrifice.

The most important thing about it, is that I know what it feels like.

You can too. Change comes through people doing things they've never done before. Burn your money.


Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who
is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.

Luke 11:2-4

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