Sunday, October 16, 2011

Occupy St Aidan's

As protests brew across the world, yesterday they raged in 900 cities, I've wondered if I should join the protests. You'd think it would be an easy choice, since I work with the chronically homeless and have dedicated my ministry to working with those living in poverty.

I love the idea of the people who have always been the majority taking back their voice and holding those in political power accountable.

I've done a lot of studying of nonviolence theory, so I'm proud when people find nonviolent ways to bring attention to important issues.

But, something about the protests have been unsettling to me. While I cheer on those street retreating and creating mass conversations in the streets, I can't help but remember that my mother is a banker and has been all her life.

In fact, she worked at the same bank since she was 18 and just retired a few months ago. As a working mother, she struggled to keep daily bread on our table. She managed the tellers at several branches of a South Dakota bank that went national. The reality is that our family was not the 1%.

As I see the images of the protests in front of banks I remember that my mothers desk and those on the lowest rungs of the banks payrolls are the ones sitting in earshot of the protests.

I also remember that the effectiveness of the civil rights protests and sit-ins came from their ability to dramaticize the injustices that existed, to force private terror to be publicly scrutinized or to clog the wheels of unjust laws by filling the jails so no one else could get arrested.

I wonder if the protests are dramatizing a solution? I also notice that we are in a precocious time when the world is listening to the protectors, but no individual voices have emerged as the leaders of a more benevolent future.

So I suggest, that we call for a shift in the countries moral compass. When we bring a mass of people to a location we give it power. But is Wall Street where we want our change to come from?

I call us to put our butts where our mouths are. Let's fill the spaces we want the world to see as the moral compass of our communities. And in those spaces, let's demand that those leaders speak for us and get voice in the halls of congress and at the CEO meetings where the 1% can actually be found.

What if the churches, Temples, zen centers and other places we wanted our ethical center to come from were as full as the streets?

This is our moment. Let us give to Wall Street what is Wall Street's. Keep your upside down wealth systems. Let us be people bringing a new understanding of love, hope and prosperity to the world.

So join me in occupying St Aidan's, herchurch, Christ Church, Inglesia Santa Maria y Marta and St. Francis. Lets fill the pews and the offering plates and reset our compasses. Whose with me?

Location:San Francisco

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