Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Occupy Chicago

What an amazing experience to join Occupy Chicago this past Saturday. As a provisional (soon-to-be ordained) minister, OUnI encouraged me strongly to wear a clergy collar and the OUnI pendant. The intense energy and nonviolence of this occupation moved me deeply.

Amazing conversations took place with folks; they all appreciated a clergyperson's presence, particularly one who stood with them, without an agenda other than radiating God's love. I spoke with two young men who had worked in the financial industry until realizing how ruthless it was. They each lamented the lack of compassion within; they know economics, so are not chanting merely to hear their own voices. Things need to change, now.

Another man spoke to me of being blessed to own his house and have security, but being alarmed that so many do not have the necessitites of life. He said that more folks needed to come out and occupy. A woman spoke to me of how her faith, expressed through the United Church of Christ, inspires her to work for justice and peace. Her late grandfather founded Protestants for the Common Good; seems that apple didn't fall too far from the tree!

The diversity of the occupiers struck me as well: men and women of various ages and economic classes, African-Americans, Asians, Caucasians, Latin Americans.  I saw some young Muslim women wearing hijabs occupying as well. A Presbyterian pastor spoke at the General Assembly. Yes, the Communists and Socialists were present, and in a democracy should be, but the majority of people were there due to righteous anger at the greed so prevelant today which causes so much suffering. The energy was palpable.

A country that bails out banks whose CEO's whine having to go without a pay raise on the $10 million salary they already receive, has its priorities screwed up. Likewise, when some of our fellow Americans applaud allowing the death of an albeit hypothetical man without insurance, boo a solider who happens to be gay, or seem to have no problem with the mounting ranks of homeless people in a land with empty houses, we need to take a moral inventory.

When young gay and lesbian youth take their lives due to bullying and officials in some places don't care, those officials need to be held accountable and the parents of the bulliers held responsible, along with the bullying kids themselves. Likewise, we need to learn from the Vietnam Conflict, and get out countries in which we don't belong and in which the people don't want us. We as a nation have lost our soul.

My hope is not only that the occupations continue around the world, but that real change results as a result of the pressure, particularly at the ballot box. Injustice reigns. Rooted in the power of the Holy Spirit, we need to reach out in love to each other, whether 1% or 99%, and come together 100% in Beloved Community. When we do, compassion and justice shall kiss and our priorities shall be made straight; I shudder to think what will happen if we don't.

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