musings

tla #2: ows (with lots of links)

i am typically cautious of the bandwagon. true story. it took me six weeks to read the harry potter series…ten years and six weeks. and this was the closest i got to blogging about it.

but if you are patient and lend me a hand when i am ready, i will eventually hop on. truth be told, the occupy wall street phenomenon has been no different. what began as cursory observations of a single event has since grown to deeper considerations of my engagement in this crazy thing sometimes deemed ‘faith in public life.’

a few weeks ago when the news first broke of a group of occupiers in zuccotti park, i said to myself, “cool. disenfranchised, liberal-arts-educated, white hippie kids have decided to make a statement about something vague. keep me posted.” (i wasn’t kidding about that cursory part.) but then i had a chance to visit nyc a couple weeks later and stop by liberty square on the same day as an ecumenical service and public demonstration put on by nyc faith leaders.

so much for those initial thoughts. of course you will find the aforementioned DLAEWHP crew (hopefully not sporting that acronym on buttons, though), but you will also find people who fit different tax brackets. messy? on the contrary. unorganized? hardly. in the hour that i spent in zuccotti park i watched people systematically work through recycling, compost collection, and food distribution. non-violent? absolutely.

there is nothing unique in these reflections. well, depending on what you read this is nothing new. in the day that i posted on fb an open letter from jim wallis to the occupiers, i came across three opinions, opinions of a divergent sort:

  • ‘be grateful’-minded pictures across the blogosphere
  • a fb status along the lines of “don’t support corporations. quit complaining of our democracy. but please take a shower.”
  • a family friend’s response to jim’s article, asking about the goals of the movement.
to this third reaction i find resonance, and i come back to that ‘faith in public life’ piece. admittedly i was initially skeptical; the desire for quick answers and neat organization is a habit of mine, and in my haste to focus on personal matters more immediate to my life i implicitly tried to file ows in the “not important, not urgent” category in my mind. tell me the end goal and i will work my darnedest to get there. come back to me when you have an outlined five-year plan.
but ows has not gone away. there are now more occupiers in not only nyc but also other major cities. why not seek to incorporate my faith in understandings of this movement?
i am still unsure of the ‘end goal’ to ows, but i have come to realize that this is not the only way to engage the issue. rather than jump to next steps and what is ahead, why not talk about what is currently happening? faith leaders of different collars, robes and stoles are present at zuccotti park. the public demonstration the weekend of my nyc visit included the imagery of the golden calf. i would be remiss not to reflect on ows from a place of faith.
what are the things we value in order to live sustainable, thriving lives? do our processes and opportunities for dignified work extend to the most marginalized among us? who are those currently marginalized? what kind of support can we provide to both those speaking out for this elusive change as well as to those who are in the place to implement such changes (and are these different groups of individuals)? what does leadership look like in our communities? in whom or what do we place our hope?
if nothing else, i hope that ows serves as a catalyst — for people to share their hurt, their successes, their creativity, and their connectedness. keep me posted, occupiers, we are listening. i have certainly hopped on to the conversation.
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