So today Occupy Wall Street protestors filtered into Lower Manhattan, intent on re-creating the chaos they launched a year ago today, determined again to raise a powerful call for social justice on behalf of the poor and oppressed in this country and around the world.
In terms of protestor numbers and amount of chaos created, the day would seem to have been a flop. In terms of spotlighting injustice and articulating an agenda for change, it was as complete a failure as last year’s pathetic spectacle.
On the first point, the New York Daily News reports:
So much for the revolution.
More than 150 self-professed members of the 99 percent were arrested Monday as the Occupy Wall Street movement marked its one-year anniversary by trying to bottle-up the fat cats in the Financial District.
In the end, it was the demonstrators who found themselves penned in and pursued all day long by police, with the arrests coming for disorderly conduct charges.
Instead of shutting down the New York Stock Exchange and crippling capitalism, they found themselves being marched around Lower Manhattan by police officers.
On the second point, you can’t advance an agenda for creating justice if you don’t understand justice in the first place. The motley hodgepodge of communists, anarchists, anti-capitalists, socialists, and boy-men proved a year ago that they couldn’t even agree on what injustice is, much less how to create justice. The unions fueling the movement couldn’t care less about justice, having grown fat on member dues and political patronage, zeroed in as they are on feathering their own nests, even at the expense of their members’ well-being.
We give Episcopal Bishop George Packard, who was among those arrested today, an exemption on these counts, assuming his familiarity with the Bible and it’s crystal-clear commands and warnings about our behavior reflecting the righteousness of the one in whose image we are created. He told the NYDN he thought the OWS demonstrations were “gloriously delivered in fits and starts in the Occupy fashion. You can never deny the verve and the force of this movement.”
Both of America’s major political parties have done nothing but deepen and widen the chasm between this country’s “haves” and “have nots.” One party seems determined to enrich the rich, while the other focuses on aggravating and exploiting have-not resentment. Both parties seem committed to enlarging the federal entitlement plantation and leveraging their political power to enrich their cronies.
The rage that seethes beneath the surface in this country is mollified only by the despair that enslaves poor souls who have no hope of freedom. Injustice abounds at every turn. The poor in this country have plenty of legitimate complaints. One party couldn’t care less; the other cynically exploits the resentments.
And the vast majority of church members busy themselves with their daily concerns, keeping their heads down lest they see something that stirs the conscience, keeping their Bibles closed lest they hear the thundering voice of a prophet or the gentle nudge of a still, small voice.
Pundits and Facebook campaigners make it very clear this presidential election is a choice between heaven and hell on earth. Both parties promise heaven, and you know what their promises are worth. The stakes indeed are high. A monumental decision will be made, and the diverging roads could not lead to more different destinations. But neither party will deliver justice.
The only hope for justice in this country is that people who have experienced God’s justice in their own lives will step up and take seriously their assignments as ambassadors of reconciliation. True justice begins with the “new creation” transformation only Jesus can bring to a broken human soul. True justice is created in a person’s life only as God’s people mentor others in the Way of Jesus. True justice takes hold in communities and countries only as transformed individuals multiply the justice they have experienced into the lives of the people around them.
That requires us to put God’s kingdom above our own interests and comfort. It requires us to step into relationships with people “on the other side of the tracks” — relationships that will challenge and stretch us more deeply than anything we have ever known. It will require us to get to know people well enough to see past superficial dysfunctions to the heart of their brokenness. It will require us to patiently persist with people who aren’t sure they are willing to do the hard part of making new lives for themselves.
It will require us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
And it’s the only hope this country has of avoiding the disaster our “leaders” are brewing for us.