Every now and then I would hear about Occupy, but never really enough to fully understand it. My favourite way to learn about people is from the people themselves, so I had the desire to go down and talk with the people who were camping out. But, I kept putting it off. Then I read that the court had ordered them out by Friday at 2pm. I did not get down to the Occupy Camp until Thursday night. I took my tent and headed down. I thought that would be the best way to understand what was going on. I wasn’t sure what they stood for, but I believed that they had a right to say it, and that was enough to get me to go a support them.
I had no idea what would happen once I got there. I turned out that they had a plan in mind; plan of creative resistance, a plan to leave the plaza, but not without pointing out the injustice of their silencing. I met people I will never forget; people who have chosen community over comfort.
It was an honour to be a part of their last night at the Plaza, but counter to the media portrayal, this was not their last stand. Occupy lives on. There was such a community created at the camp that ridding the plaza of tents far from disbands the group. “The occupation was in-tents”, but it will continue even when the tents are gone. I believe that is party why the Occupiers could leave peacefully, and even before their eviction. They knew that it was far from the end, as one of the signs read: “ideas can’t be evicted”.
I had conversations with occupiers that I will never forget. One guy felt like history was just repeated itself, but it would not give us any better results this time around. He spoke about how things were rather similar in the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire got me thinking about Jesus. Would he be part of an Occupy Revolution?
Jesus brought his own kingdom, so he didn’t need to transform the one that existed. Rather he invited people to join his movement. But it was a movement that contains many of the values of the Occupy movement; the values of community, sharing, equality, and justice over the “Justice System”.
There were a couple of Jesus stories that came to mind over the night:
I was reminded of the creative resistance of which Jesus spoke in Matthew 5: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (to understand how this is creative resistance, it helps to understand the culture a bit better. This could help http://dustinfjames.wordpress.com/category/nonviolent-resistance/ I didn't fully read what was said on this site, but I think he's got the idea)
A conversation with a business man who couldn’t grasp the concept of Occupy made me think of the parable from Luke 12: “A man in a crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to give me my share of what our father left us when he died."
Jesus answered, "Who gave me the right to settle arguments between you and your brother?"
Then he said to the crowd, "Don't be greedy! Owning a lot of things won't make your life safe."
So Jesus told them this story:
A rich man's farm produced a big crop, and he said to himself, "What can I do? I don't have a place large enough to store everything."
Later, he said, "Now I know what I'll do. I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I can store all my grain and other goods. Then I'll say to myself, `You have stored up enough good things to last for years to come. Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.' "
But God said to him, "You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?"
"This is what happens to people who store up everything for themselves, but are poor in the sight of God."
And I thought about the teachings of John the Baptist “And he would answer and say to them, "The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise."” And the other John “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”
I am happy with what Occupy did. Their signs and the art left on the plaza speak their message loudly (though I would say it is being distorted by the media), and they are far from disappearing.