Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Why I am supporting the occupy movement!
There has been lots said and written about the occupy movement. Lots of it negative. “Those people are bums!” “Why don’t they get a job?” One of the biggest criticisms I have heard from people, some of whom I would have thought would be supporting the movement, is that they don’t have a cohesive message. I don’t think that is true, but let us say that it is. Does that mean that I shouldn’t support them? If one cares at all about peace, the environment, the poor, the middle class, the working class, and vast majority of people in the United States, then you should be for the occupy movement.
From what I can tell after reading about it, and talking to people who are currently in involved, the movement is about how our system is failing so many. A system built for the domination of a few wealthy people over the rest of us. The occupy movement is about protesting a system that is destroying our planet, ruining our food, corrupting our youth, testing our children into inefficiency, starting wars in our name without our approval, and eroding the most basic code of humanity that we care about our fellow travelers in this world. This is the system that needs to go. It is about more than just electing a new person into a corrupt system but about challenging us to change the roots of the system that is failing.
As a person of faith I have to be on board with the occupy movement because at the heart of the Biblical witness is a God who challenges human systems all the time. Prophets often spoke out against systems that helped a few and failed the rest. Jesus challenged a system that made it impossible for ordinary people to worship God and live the abundant life intended by God. As people of faith any human system always has to be under suspicion. Whether it is a religious system or a political one, because all human systems end up failing when left unchecked and unquestioned. The best we can do is keep our elected leaders accountable to maintain peace and justice. Ultimately, all systems fail because it is only God who can bring about true peace and justice for all.
I am also supporting this movement because the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) has produced a teaching document that supports the “Sustainable, Livelihood, for All”. As all good Lutheran teaching documents do it does not give specific answers, but lays out ground work for the kinds of questions and answers we should be seeking from a system that fails so many. To quote just one part of the teaching document: “We call for efforts to increase the participation of low-income people in political and civic life, and citizen vigilance and action that challenges governments and other sectors when they become captive to narrow economic interest that do not represent the good of all.” This is exactly what the occupy movement has done. I have sent several emails to our presiding Bishop asking why he does not publicly support the occupy movement. I hope soon he will support it. Because if the Church cannot stand for peace, for justice, against war, against the wasting of our planet, and for the vast majority of poor and disenfranchised then we cannot call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ.
Here are a few links to read more about the occupy movement http://www.nycga.net/resources/declaration/, http://www.occupytogether.org/