Marking the start of the third month of the Occupy movement’s work in lower Manhattan I feel like I have finally had enough time to process through everything that has been going on to share a few thoughts and one frustration. Let start by saying that I believe this is a thoughtful group of people with important things to say.
First the frustration. There has been widespread attempts to marginalize this movement of people. This has been done by attempting to hijack their slogans (We are the 99%, etc.) and calling them to get jobs. Those who have marginalized this movement have – more than likely – avoided interacting with their very clear core complaint. This also includes all of the spin-off advertising (Jay-Z…) and attempts to redirect the frustration into other pursuits.
Engaging the Movement
I do believe that they OWS movement is raising a valid social critique. According to many of the metrics used to track the economy we have left the recession that we were in for a number of years. The financial sector has bounced back, and yet this growth has not been experienced by those outside of the markets (read as most of Americans). This, as I understand it, is the precepts for the movement’s beginning. Why have the majority of the american people taken the brunt of the recession that one can easily argue was caused by a few people (who are doing better than ever).
The only other point I will make here has to do with structuralism in american society. Most people live unaware of the invisible networks and systems that inform their propensity to succeed in life. The way the game of life has been setup in america has certain rules, and by birth and good fortune some find themselves in situations to succeed more than most of their peers. I do not say this to imply that those guided to success should feel guilt for their good fortune, but if they stay unaware that these structures exist to ensure their success it becomes abusive to the majority who live without the same opportunity.
OWS and Myself
I write all this understanding full well that I am one of those who has been given more than the average american in terms of opportunities (emotional, scholastic, relational, fiscal, gender, race, etc). Most people don’t have the resources or connections to start a software company, get my masters degree in divinity, or to have the freedom in life to dream the dreams that my wife and I do for our future (they are audacious dreams, i know). But I believe I hear OWS asking those living the high life to accept these advantages, and then to accept their civic responsibility to help the next generation to be lifted up. My hope is that who I am becoming, and what I do will help to elevate those around me, and those whom I may never meet. As a Christian, and a member of society I believe this is my responsibility. That for me to love and serve God means to love and serve my neighbors with whatever I may or may not have.
I have not spent time here talking about social issues like amendment rights to expression, speech, assembly that have obviously been violated all over the country. America has always had the freedom of speech, it is just that for the first time the ability to speak and be heard is free. Maybe in the future I will write about these, though there are many other more qualified than me on this front.