Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy This

The Occupy movement has been on my brain a lot in the past couple of months. Perhaps you've heard of it.
View from office of #occupyoakland 10/14/11

I guess I started actively paying attention back in the beginning of October when a (conservative) friend sent me a text message, asking, “Have you made any friends at Occupy Oakland yet? Where’s your tent?” I didn't respond because I didn't know what to say: I hadn't been down there yet so I hadn't made any friends, although some classmates of mine were occupying, but I hadn't informed myself and I didn't want to admit that. My head was swimming. I knew it was something I should know about, so I started...collecting. Facts. Quotes. Photos.

Occupy SF, before it moved down the block and became MUCH bigger
Found on a friend's Facebook wall
My classmate TR marching in an interfaith rally in San Francisco
An Italian take on Occupy Oakland

My friend and classmate PK, center, a few hours before he was arrested at the Interfaith Coalition tent at Occupy Oakland
PK, center
Cellphone photo walking past Occupy Cal last week

I encourage my students to dig deeper for answers in their Bible and theology courses. Jesus committed his entire life, and death, to the love of all humanity, including the 1 percent, but most especially he identified with the poor and powerless. He showed his particular love, time and again, by sleeping alongside them, eating with them and living as one of them. It is with the neediest, Jesus told his disciples, that God is alive and on the move.” - Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." – Mahatma Gandhi

“I’m ready to occupy all “Occupy _________” punch lines. They’re every bit as stale and lame as the old, stodgy millionaires that the “occupy” movement itself protests.” – MS, a friend and distant relative, in a Facebook status

“Anyone who really says ‘yes’ to life says ‘no’ to war. Anyone who really loves life says ‘no’ to poverty. So the people who truly affirm and love life take up the struggle against violence and injustice. They refuse to get used to it. They do not conform. They resist.” – J├╝rgen Moltmann, The Spirit of Life

In engaging the bigger issues I've faced in my short life - what should I do after college? Why do I want Barack Obama to be president? et cetera - I've found that the best solution comes to me after consulting a variety of quality sources, getting a few good nights' rest, and praying super hard for a sound answer. The Occupy movement, to be fair, doesn't feel as personal for me as it does for others, but nonetheless I've undertaken this same method to decipher its importance for my life. And the punchline is: I still don't know what to think of it, but because the world doesn't revolve around me, I am SO GLAD the movement exists. It may not be affecting my day-to-day, but I am wholly supportive of every protester and every minute reason that any of them feels compelled to camp or march. I feel so damn lucky to be living while this is happening. If Jesus were alive today, I absolutely believe he would be camping in Oscar Grant plaza. It doesn't matter to me that the movement hasn't produced "demands" or specific objectives. It seems to me that most protestors are opposed, quite simply, to the broken system that currently exists, so why would they provide a list of demands if that's a product of the system they're opposing?

For now, I'm going to class, writing papers, buying groceries and doing some yoga. I'm getting ready for my birthday and Christmas. And I have an eye on Occupy. I give thanks that there are thousands of people who are willing to shake things up to make the world a better place, and if something changes - if the Spirit so moves me - I'm ready to join them.

1 comment:

Paige said...

Two of my favorite "occupy" punch lines were posted on a blog I follow, authored by a Catholic nun. My absolute favorite of the two said "Occupy the Confessional." That's what we really need, right? All of us? To go forth and sin no more. Then there will be no greed, no stealing, no hoarding, no trying to screw the little guy, no animosity, no covetousness, no problems.
It has a nice ring to it, I think.