Friday, October 07, 2011

Why i support the "occupy" movement

Actually, I'm surprised it has taken this long for people in the US to take to the streets in protest. I have felt the tension mounting for awhile. I hope I am wrong, but I see things getting much uglier in the next couple of years. The country is becoming more and more polarized, government is becoming more corrupt, debt is rising, poverty increasing, the classes growing further apart... and who is it that people are supposed to go to for answers? No one has them, and too many seem content to stick their heads in the sand.

I don't know a lot about the 'Occupy Wallstreet' movement. I'm also unsure of what the list of demands really means. Someone has suggested we look at them like the Old Testament idea of "Jubilee." All I really know is that SOMETHING needs to be done. That seems to be the Occupy Together stance, and that's why I've joined the facebook group for both Occupy Together, and Occupy Fort Wayne (my city). Personally, I believe something needs to be done about healthcare (as an industry), the insurance industry, banking industry, and the political system in the US (just to name a few). And, please, I am NOT saying that we don't need healthcare, insurance or banks... but that the industries have gotten out of hand. I don't know how to address any or all of those things, but I am smart enough to know that simply denying that we have any problems is not going to help anyone. I think the biggest frustration for me, though, is that there just doesn't even seem to be any place to go to find answers or to get help. You can no longer "write your congressman," because for the most part our congress men and woman are the cause or the culprit behind much of what has gotten us here. As FDR is purported to have said, "Government run by organized money is the same as government run by the organized mob." And, let's face it, the US government is being run by the organized money of the wealthiest 1%, along with pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and more.

Well, I could write about this for some time, and I could link to a lot of articles I've read... but I actually ran across one today that says just about everything I want to say and says it way better than I ever could. It comes from Jim Wallis. You can read the entire article on his blog: Praying for Peace And Looking For Jesus at #OccupyWallStreet. I won't include the entire article, but a large chunk of it, because I think this is important... and this is how I feel too...

Tomorrow, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be more than $1.259 trillion.

Tomorrow, almost 14 million Americans will still be unemployed.

Tomorrow, the homes of more than 2,500 new U.S. families will enter foreclosure.

Tomorrow, one in seven U.S. households still won’t know where their next meal is coming from.

Tomorrow, one in four American children under the age of six will still be living below the poverty line.

Tomorrow, three billion people around the globe will still be living on less than $2.50 a day.

Tomorrow, 400 million children will still lack access to clean water.

Tomorrow, 300 children under the age of five will die in the Horn of Africa because of famine.

People are feeling crushed from all sides.

Parents who aren’t sure where their kid’s next meal will come from, and the college students who have tens of thousands of dollars in loans and can’t find a job.

Families that have lost their homes in bank foreclosures, and the tens of millions of people who live below the poverty line even though they HAVE jobs.

Problems in our nation and around the globe are huge, and the odds for overcoming them seem insurmountable.

The institutions and systems — whether business or government — meant to serve the people, seem beyond the reach of basic human kindness and completely unaccountable.

And the ever-widening gap between the very top one percent who control more wealth than the bottom 99 percent is a recipe for disastrous social instability and unrest.

The new movement called Occupy Wall Street now has spread across the country, from the very seats of our political and financial power and our largest cities, to suburbs and small towns. In some communities small groups of a few dozen have formed, and in some cities thousands have gathered.

In each instance, no matter the size, people’s frustrations, hurts, and feelings of being betrayed by our nation’s politicians and economic leaders are clear. They want to be heard.

We will likely see images and hear things from Occupy Wall Street demonstrators that will offend us and some that will inspire.

We’ll hear demands that we agree with and some that we don’t.

And that’s OK.

The Occupy Wall Street protests make some people nervous, while others scratch their heads, and more than a few grab their sleeping bags and join in.

There is a lot of speculation as to who the “Occupiers” are and what they might accomplish. There is much I still don’t know about the movement, but undeniably it has caught the imagination of a generation — and that matters.

Here are a few things I do know about the Occupy Wall Street protesters:

When they stand with the poor, they stand with Jesus.

When they stand with the hungry, they stand with Jesus.

When they stand for those without a job or a home, they stand with Jesus.

When they are peaceful, nonviolent, and love their neighbors (even the ones they don’t agree with and who don’t agree with them), they are walking as Jesus walked.

When they talk about holding banks and corporations accountable, they sound like Jesus and the biblical prophets before him who all spoke about holding the wealthy and powerful accountable.

Pray for those out on the streets.

Think of ways that you or your church can be Jesus to them.

And do one of the things that church folks do best: Bring them a covered casserole!

Take your church potluck down to the occupations. Sit, eat, and talk with the protesters. Offer them the sacred gifts of hospitality, company, and friendship.

Or a hot cup of coffee.

Or send them a pizza. (Think of it as a peace-za.)

The Occupiers’ desire for change and willingness to take action to do something about it should be an inspiration to us all.

It is for me that, even after 10 years of war, we can still act and pray for peace.

For as Isaiah 2:4 says: “[God] will judge between the nations 
and will settle disputes for many peoples. 
They will beat their swords into plowshare s
and their spears into pruning hooks.
 Nation will not take up sword against nation,
 nor will they train for war anymore.”

We need to do something, my friends. If not for yourself, then think of the list above. The thing that irritates me the most are those who are sitting pretty and making fun of the frustration of those without. Nothing, to me, could be less Jesus-like. May God help us all.

Peace out; and in.