Sunday, November 13, 2011

Occupy Everywhere: Building the Kingdom Now

The Occupy movement has exploded in cities and towns across North America. ‘Enough’, people cry. Enough of the greed. Enough of the fraud. Enough of the inequality.

Thousands of people have left their homes to call for justice before the economic rulers of our time. They’ve presented their faces, their whole selves, to those who control the money and make the rules. They’ve called for accountability and appealed for fairness. And the backlash has begun.

The CEOs have hunkered down to wait out the protesters. The police have girded themselves for the fight. And big media has ridiculed the Occupy movement from the start. Why? Because big news outlets are big business. The Occupy movement with its grassroots communication is as much a threat to news outlets as it is to corporations and the political elite. So they’ve ignored as much as possible the real issues of the protests in favor of side stories and fillers.

How safe then is our freedom of speech in North America? How safe is our right to gather? Are we any different here than in the despotic regimes of the world? Who are the police here to protect? Who are the news outlets reporting to?

The Occupy movement happened because people couldn’t make their voices heard by conventional means. The media wasn’t listening. Neither was government. It happened because people realized that soon they would have nothing to lose (if they weren’t there already). It happened because it had to happen.

If we really believe in our right to gather and our right to speak our minds with sincerity and without prejudice, then we should be standing up for the Occupy movement no matter what we believe about each individual issue. (Still don’t know what the issues are? Try unemployment, disparity of wealth between the top 1% and bottom 99%, corporate bail-outs, and corporate taxation, just to start).

We are at a crossroads as a society. Either we protect the right of citizens to gather and voice their discontent, or we descend into the swamp of intentional, planned, and accepted systemic injustice. Up until now we may have been able to convince ourselves that systemic injustice was unintentional, and that our courts would lead us to justice in the end. That mythical bubble is bursting.

As Christians we need to ask ourselves, are we disciples or are we Romans? Will we stand with the poor and voiceless? Or will we look away from the fight, or worse, side with the people in power? Will we allow the crucifixion to happen?

Because it’s a slippery slope. As we accept the slow erosion of justice, the tiny increments of loss of freedom, the perhaps unnoticeable growth of the wage gap, we also accept a society that will require more tyranny, and more control to keep it from falling apart. We accept, in short, our own oppression.

But we can stop this. Let your friends know you support the Occupiers. Go to the Occupy sites if you can. If you can’t, occupy the internet and the opinion page of your newspaper. Write to government. Keep the conversation going.

It’s time now to speak up against the forces that would end the Occupy movement. It’s time to stand up for freedom of speech and the right to gather. It’s time to call for accountability and justice. It’s time to recognize that we need to create a more just world.

Not tomorrow. Today.

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