Occupy Reality

Mike —  October 13, 2011 — Leave a comment

Anyone else a little less than clear about just what the whole Occupy Wall Street thing is all about? The message seems to be “Big corporations, bad; individual, good.” but I’m sure that doesn’t exactly capture the whole heart of the protest. I checked out the Occupy website and found some interesting thoughts, and I’ve watched some of their livestream footage to see if I could get a better handle on just where OWS’ focus is. Incidentally, it wasn’t live while I was watching due to weather problems, so it was a montage of produced footage and brief clips, which would presumably be filtered so as to present ‘the message’ as clearly as possible. I still can’t quite get the pulse of what the point of the protestors is, but some of the highlights are here:

1. Don’t tell us what to do – we just want to be free.
2. Let’s get together and be upset… about anything.
3. “Fight the power.” Whatever that power may be…
4. 1% of Americans are too rich and couldn’t have possibly got that way legitimately.
5. 99% of Americans are too poor because of the greed induced power manipulation of the 1%.
6. “We demand a democracy that has zero tolerance for corruption.”
7. People before profits.

Among some recycled socialist mantras there are some really good things to say, but I could see the lack of a well articulated vision for what they want causing the degeneration of these peaceful protests into something much worse. Maybe I’m wrong, but the overriding feeling I get from what I’ve seen and read is “We’re mad.” If there’s no other motivation for being together, sleeping on concrete and under tarps is going to get old quickly.

While my more liberal friends will celebrate the stand for freedom they see in OWS, and my conservative ones will decry all the pot & pooping on the police car, I wonder if we’ll all miss something deeper. I wonder if any of us will listen well enough to hear the root of dissatisfaction. What’s really going on here?

Is there corruption in the highest echelons of corporations and government? Sure, just as there is corruption in the hearts and minds of people of every income level – and it needs to be dealt with. Is the gap widening between those who have a lot and those who have a little? Probably, in terms of how much they have, but the problem isn’t that some people make too much. The problem is most of us aren’t very generous – we’re looking out for ourselves first. Whether we live in luxury or near poverty isn’t the issue as much as our attitude toward what we have. When “what’s mine is mine” and you can just go get your own, it doesn’t matter whether the system is capitalist, socialist, or anything else. The solution is not a political one.

Church, the unrest in the world today is an open door for us to exhibit something better. What if the world could see a ‘peculiar people’ who love unconditionally, share whatever they have that’s needed, and genuinely look out for their neighbors’ best interests? What are we doing to show people that, while they may not feel like they matter to whatever corporation they vilify, they do matter to God and they do matter to us?

I don’t make a lot as a youth pastor. I’m definitely not in the top 1% of America’s wage earners. But here’s a reality check for me (and you): check out this Global Rich List. My family, and probably yours, is a lot closer to the top of the scale than the bottom. What are we doing with what we have earned to benefit someone else?

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