Thursday, October 27, 2011

On Wall Street, Occupations and Such: When is Enough Enough?

Last week in Chicago for Christian Peacemaker Teams’ (CPT) 25th anniversary Peace Congress, some friends and I joined the Occupy Chicago protest outside Bank of America and in front of the Chicago Board of Trade.

Drums, not bullets or rocks, were the medium of expression for anger and determination.

Community building happened before our eyes as a general assembly convened for business sublime and ordinary.

What might have been street kids mingled with college grads, grandmas and grandpas and everyone in between.

And the signs were a crash course in economics, with quotes from such folk as Adam Smith blazoning messages of the need for change.

It was peaceful, convivial, respectful of passers by, cheerful and focused.

The political structures of the day seem at a loss as to what to ‘do’ with the Occupy movement.  Politics and politicians are largely irrelevant in what I saw.

I can’t express the credo for this movement; but the question I come away with is this: When is enough enough?

When we arrived, my friends and I, we milled around a bit, observing, listening.  We had come without signs, but noticed a pile of them, available to all.  Looking through them, I found the perfect one for me: Stop telling the truth.  I am trying to be normal.

I don’t know what the author intended, but what I took away was this:

(1) as a follower of Jesus, speaking Truth and truth is my obligation as well as my privilege.  It often isn’t comfortable or welcome, the business of speaking Truth and truth.  What it is is a calling; the calling of every Christian.  Living truth, following The Truth, we may not, we cannot, remain silent in the face of lies, especially the great ones; and

(2) When we live our lives trying to pretend that everything and everyone is okay when it and they are clearly not, the Truth and the truth are very uncomfortable.  Not thinking about, not acting upon, the call to and for justice is a luxury Americans in general and Christians in particular do not have.

So when is enough enough?  It is a personal question and all I can offer is my own personal answer in all its particularities.

In material terms, when do I have enough?  Enough stuff?  Enough wealth?  The answer is a very long time ago I accumulated all I would ever need and more besides.  I give my 10% to my church and still have more than I need.  In a lifetime of 56 years thus far, I have already expended far more than my personal share of the world’s resources.

This is my confession and my challenge.  I cannot undo what has already been done.  But I can change. . . change patterns of consumption . . . the desire for things . . . the enculturated feeling within that enough is never enough . . . I can use less and share more . . . I can stop pretending that all is normal . . . I can listen and learn . . . I can stop supporting structures that oppress the generations. . . and I can lend my voice, my presence.

I can.  The question is will I?                    

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