Letter to a friend concerning Occupy Wall Street
I always look forward to what you blog which always made me pause and think about what you have to say. Your latest piece on the Occupy Wall Street was no exception. Indeed, I read it some time back which really took some time for me to think about what you said. Anyway, I thought I write a letter to you to give you some of my thoughts about this phenomenon.
I’ve to admit that I’m not on solid grounds when it come to theological reflection let alone on scriptures. My own reading staple is based mainly on philosophers such as Hegel, Marx, Zizek, etc. What I propose to do here is to intersperse biblical with philosophical reflection. I hope that is alright with you.
What struck me the most in your essay was this line …
But the 99 % also need to consider what they would do if they were the 1 %. What changes in behaviours are they expecting? What proposals are they making? What do they think governments should do? We should be thinking about all these things. Christians in particular should be thinking about how they can work towards a more just distribution of wealth in society.
How indeed should Christians respond to the question of social justice. I think this is the core issue with regard to the occupy movements around the world.
The way I see it, these movements represent the unease against the spirit of the age, i.e. rampant capitalism coupled with an unresponsive democracy that serves a small group in society. On the surface, their protest may seem unfocused and ultimately futile because they have no plan of action. Nonetheless, I would argue that we are witnessing people coming to a realization that the socio-political and economic system is manifestly broken and that something must be done.
People are thrown out of their homes and jobs with the state fully backing those who repossessed their homes and fired them from their jobs. Perhaps the greatest irony is democracy is the government of, by and for the people. I see such movements as forms of resistance against the march of the neo-liberal capitalist system or what Negri and Hart call as Empire.
Coming to Christians, we must indeed ask ourselves what is our response to the world as it is today. Taking the whole witness of scripture, I see in the Old Testament God sending His prophets to denounce and unmask the Baals and Molochs of that time and that His people turn back to Him and practise justice. In the New Testament, did not Jesus in the sermon on the mount together with his confrontation with the Jewish and Roman authorities did the same thing?
I see that Christians cannot and must not turn from the injustice perpetrated in the name of the greater good and order which in reality only benefit a select few. I believe we must give voice to the voiceless and act on behalf of the weak and poor. Can we do otherwise? Indeed, I find the following paragraph from your essay illuminating when you say:
Many of today’s Christians don’t reflect on the Kingdom of God. There are many who think of the Christ as only a personal saviour: this is impossible for those who pray the Lord’s Kingdom prayer with understanding.
Of course, the million dollar question is how should we participate that marks us out as distinctively Christian and yet truly participating with others in liberating the world from the evil of this present age. I hasten to add that I do not believe that we can truly bring heaven on earth but we can bring glimpses of heaven to the world. I believe that this is the task of Christians where ever they are.
It is something that I must confess that I struggle and often fail in … Kyrie, elesion.
Your fellow wayfarer,