Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Below is an excerpt of a letter that one Christian wrote to the Occupy Movement and then my response to it:
• The value of your movement is in spontaneity, diversity, and flexibility. Do not let extreme ideologies hijack your movement. Do not let the media define who you are. Avoid every temptation to name a spokesperson or a leader, no matter how charismatic that person is. Keep pressing into raising questions more than giving answers. Be generous, mysterious, and enigmatic. A movement is organic and generative, and your passion must be carried into the conversation for the next generation, from Wall Street to dining room table discussions. Above all, do all things out of love.
I’m sure that the Christian means well by this advice, but is he really giving them a basis for hope? Although there might be some virtue in “spontaneity, diversity, and flexibility,” it only finds its value in leading to truth. In themselves, these qualities can just as easily lead to violence and revolution.
And why shouldn’t “media define who you are?” Why shouldn’t they stand for something of worth? What is the virtue of remaining undefined? I seems that such advice merely feeds into Occupy prejudices – big is bad; small is good; order is evil, while disorganization is “organic and generative.”
This seems to remove our attention from where it needs to be: The evil is inside each one of us. We all have a tremendous capacity to corrupt and hurt. There aren’t the good guys and the bad guys. There isn’t the good 99% and the evil 1% upon which we can vent and rail. Although this 1% might have a greater capacity to negatively impact many, so do movements, whether defined or undefined.
This letter advises, “Keep pressing into raising questions more than giving answers.” Questions are only valuable as a possible vehicle to bring us to valuable answers. Why do research if it fails to shed light on a particular question? If Occupy wants to be heard, they need something to say. If they can’t come up with any answers, how can they expect anyone to meaningfully address the problems – and there are many.
Maybe it might sound clichéd, but maybe the answer might be corporate repentance, seeing that we have the same root of greed within ourselves? Maybe the many problems that confront us require a particular spiritual solution and not an undefined movement? Maybe it might involve the recognition that we are sinners who need the Savior? Maybe it requires the acknowledgement that the more we have moved away from the Savior, the more our problems have multiplied?
The Constitutional Convention had been meeting for five weeks, and had hit a perilous deadlock. The large states were insisting that congressional representation be based on population; the smaller states wanted a one-state-one-vote rule. According to James Madison, the Deist, Ben Franklin, broke the impasse:
• Mr. President…In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection.- Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor.
• I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?
• To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that "except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.
• I therefore beg leave to move - that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that Service-
Hence, the impasse was broken! Perhaps we too as a nation need to revisit these wise words!