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That other people have said it better, is no excuse for me to say nothing. That some may not agree with me does not relieve me of my responsibility to say something. And it IS a responsibility. I feel that deeply, perhaps foolishly, but deeply nonetheless. Because whether you support the Occupation of Wall Street or not, you should at least know what is happening there.

If you haven’t heard, there has been a group of protesters camped out in lower Manhattan since September 17th. In short, they are there to express outrage at the grand collusion between our politicians and big business, and call out the fraud and theft perpetrated against the American people with the consent of our federal government. This occupation/protest has not been widely reported in traditional news outlets but has been tearing up sites like Twitter and YouTube.

Critics of the movement have been quick to discount it for its lack of a clearly articulated message and its apparent disorganization. The protesters have been widely derided as a collection of overeducated, under-employed kids and bored hippies. They have been summarily dismissed as agitators who simply don’t understand the complexities of the system. They insist that We The People did not agree to bail out the banks and corporations. Journalists and pundits sit back and smile, slightly bemused as they explain that this is how things work. We The People rescued the banks and corporations so that the economy didn’t fall apart, and in return, they will provide a stable economy with decent jobs and fair loans. Except that’s not what happened. The banks and corporations recovered but We The People are still waiting. Still suffering.

I have listened to the conversations around liberal and conservative tables alike. We continue to tell our children that they can do anything and be anything if they put their mind to it. We tell them that in this great democracy, their vote and their voice matters, but when the children are out of earshot, we’ll freely admit that deep down, we don’t really believe such things and beneath all the feel-good flag-waving bullshit, we know that the Powers That Be regularly circumvent the will of The People in favor of The Almighty Dollar.

We know this. We are resigned to it. Those protesters occupying Wall Street are not. And even “good liberals” seem to be embarrassed by the movement, urging them to be calmer and more orderly, more peaceful and composed. We wish that this protest would be tidy and intellectual, as if somehow the opposition wouldn’t smear them anyway, wouldn’t treat them with disdain, as a casual annoyance or a subject of ridicule no matter how they presented themselves.

But protest is not polite or pretty and revolution is never treated with respect no matter how it is conducted. This is what real democracy looks like, with passionate opinionated people bringing their passion and opinions to a common action and a common cause. And yes, it is messy and perhaps ill-conceived, but these are our brothers and sisters, our children and grandchildren. They have watched helplessly while we lost our homes, our livelihood and our hope in their future. They have dared to get down in the mud, to draw a line and say “this far and no further”. They are a living, breathing representation of righteous anger at the fraud which caused the foreclosure of our homes, the erosion of the working class, the Wall Street bailouts and the loss of power for the 99% of Americans who have less, earn less and matter less than we did a decade ago.

Shame on us if we do not support them loudly and incessantly as they put themselves on the line to stand up against the 1% and the government that it bought. It would appear, in our apathy and resignation that we don’t actually want an uprising. We would prefer that things simply right themselves without one. We want so desperately to go back to the way we were when the corporate and government collusion was barely tolerable, but tolerable nonetheless. We want just enough of what we had before to not be terrified all the time. We want to be two paces back from the brink. We want to go back to scraping by and take that little measure of security in mere survival.

And honestly, if the proper attention was paid, if we gave up our resignation, if we all got down in the mud alongside them, there’d be no going back. Shame on us if we don’t scream at the top of our lungs: End the Corporatocracy. Return the government to the people. Abolish Corporate Personhood. Return the government to the people. Support publicly-financed elections. Return the government to the people. Anything less is unacceptable.

 

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[I originally wrote this piece back in 2002, around the time that the Supreme Court took on a challenge to Texas sodomy laws. I am re-posting it here because every once in a while, I will lament to Jay that I "can't write funny" and he will reply with "What about The Sodomy?" Next to "Vaganitis Comedius", it remains one of the funniest bits of dialogue I think I ever managed to get down on paper. That said, I give you The Sodomy.]

So I’m pretty excited about the world. This is a really special time. At no other point in history have we had the option of slipping sodomy into polite conversation. For example, in the restaurant last night, two couples in their mid-forties sat in the booth behind us and the conversation went something like this: Read the rest of this entry »

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I have spent the last week reading Jim Wallis’ “God’s Politics; Why the Right gets it wrong and the Left doesn’t get it“. As an agnostic with Buddhist leanings, raised in an evangelical household, the intersection of religion and politics is of particular interest to me and Wallis’ book is easily the most profound thing I’ve yet to read on the subject. As I wrap up the last chapters, I find myself thumbing back to certain pages, marked with a creased page or a penciled arrow in the margin. The following paragraph is from one of those pages.

“The real theological problem in America today is no longer the religious Right, but the nationalist religion of the Bush administration, one that confuses the identity of the nation with the church, and God’s purposes with the mission of American empire. America’s foreign policy is more than preemptive, it is theologically presumptuous; not only unilateral, but dangerously messianic; not just arrogant; but rather bordering on the idolatrous and blasphemous. George Bush’s personal faith has prompted a profound self-confidence in his “mission” to fight the “axis of evil”, his “call” to be commander and chief in the war against terrorism, and his definition of America’s “responsibility” to “defend the hopes of all mankind”. This is a dangerous mix of bad foreign policy and bad theology.”  (Jim Wallis can be found at Sojourners and Beliefnet. I highly recommend his writings for the faith-into-action peacemakers among us or those you know.)