I am very proud of my mom. When Occupy Wichita got started, she was there; marching on the streets of downtown Wichita, Kansas. I really respect the fact that she was not afraid to get out early and raise her voice about the economic inequality and injustice that is rampant in our nation. Despite the fact that the Occupation was labeled a "youth movement" early on, my sixty-plus mom had the courage to take a stand with the Millenial riff-raff.
My mom is a very practical woman. She understands how people operate, what their needs are, and how to empower them. So, when she wrote me recently with advice about my blog, I took her seriously. She pointed out that in my calls for engagement on the part of the Church, I had not been very specific. I had not given details about practical ways that folks could get involved with the Occupy Movement. She was concerned that, without details, most folks would assume that the only way to be involved was to camp out, which most of us are not in a position to do.
This made a lot of sense. There are millions of people who support the Occupy Movement. According to a recent survey by CNN, thirty-six percent of Americans "agree with the overall positions of Occupy Wall Street, while nineteen percent say they disagree." Thirty-six percent! That means roughly one hundred million Americans support the movement. Yet, those who are actively involved in occupations nationwide number merely in the tens of thousands. Why such a great gap between sentiment and action?
Mom must be right. Most of us cannot take off work to camp out full time; and many of us simply are not comfortable making such a public stand. However, that does not mean that the more than hundred million Americans who support us have to stay on the sidelines. There are many ways to get involved. Let me mention a few possibilities:
- If you have your money in a major bank (Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, etc.), you could consider moving your funds to a local bank or credit union. When you do this, you could also write a letter, explaining why you are closing your account.
- If you have financial resources, you could make a donation to your local occupation, either in money or equipment. Right now, many occupations are gearing up for winter. Contact occupiers in your area to learn about specific needs.
- Come and participate in a General Assembly meeting. Learn the process and take part in the decision-making of the group.
- Join in a march or action that is organized by your local occupation. Many of these happen on weekends or after working hours.
- After you get a chance to visit an occupation, share with your family, friends and faith community about what you have seen. Dare to be openly supportive of the movement.
In these, and many other ways, each of us can become a part of the call for change that is rising around the world. The Occupation is not limited to those who are camping; nor is it restricted to the young, the politically progressive, or any other sub-group that we have constructed in recent decades. The Occupy Movement is open to everyone who sees that we are called to live out of faith instead of fear; generosity rather than greed; principle, not politics.
Young and old, employed and jobless, right and left - we can find a better way together. With the gifts that you have, with the resources at your disposal, with the faith of your heart - join us!