QUESTION: The “Occupy” movements have me baffled. Throughout history masses of people have demonstrated for change in their governments; however, there doesn’t seem to be any change coming about from these folks camping out around government buildings for extended periods of time. Isn’t this a government “…of the people, by the people, and for the people”? Have those we have elected become deaf and blind to their constituents? Are the elected leaders self-serving, not really caring about those they are supposed to serve? There seems to be a lack of moral and ethical responsibility among our governmental leaders and corporations.
Please help me to understand what is really happening.
Dear Concerned Citizen,
I concur that our government is failing to provide for the general welfare of the American people as required in the preamble of the US Constitution. The jobless recovery, millions of citizens without adequate healthcare, many homeless including mentally ill and veterans and the crumbling infrastructure attest to that.
The Occupy movement has taken to demonstrating in public spaces because they’re not getting results from less flamboyant measures. Young people who worked hard in high school, got into good colleges and persevered to graduation are now saddled with debt, unable to find a job and back home living in their childhood rooms. They see banks bailed out and corporate executives richly rewarded for failure while their parents get further behind on mortgage payments and fear foreclosure. Corporations aren’t supposed to care; they’re all about profits. Why are our representatives not listening? Perhaps it is because a high percentage of them are among the wealthiest Americans, the 1%, and have been insulated from the hardships working Americans face. Public funding of political campaigns, reversing the Citizens United decision giving personhood to lifeless corporations, easier vote-by-mail or Internet processes and full disclosure of campaign contributors might help get a congress and senate more reflective of those they serve.
Misguided wars against terrorism and drugs suck up tax dollars and distract voters without getting the results proponents promise. What funds aren’t skimmed off by revolving door lobbyists, consultants and
politicians-on-the-take merely add to the profits of multinational
munitions, mercenary, insurance and pharmaceutical corporations. Beleaguered public school teachers are busy defending themselves and teaching to standardized tests so have no time to emphasize critical
thinking and civic responsibility.
I share your dismay.
The “Occupy” movement is not your garden variety American protest movement. Other protest movements such as the civil and women’s rights movements along with the anti-Vietnam war protests had well-defined and specific political and policy goals.
The Occupy movements, at this stage, are mostly awareness raising campaigns to bring attention to corporate greed that is shrinking the once thriving middle class of our country. The movements are protesting the corrupting influence of big business on our political establishment by the special interest lobbyists, especially on Capitol Hill. The global financial crisis of 2008 serves as a prime example that millions of lives were impacted by widespread corporate greed with no legal repercussions levied on neither the government agencies nor the business executives responsible.
As concerned citizens, we should all advocate the “common good,” the Constitution that values “the people,” and the exposure of indecent collusions between greedy corporations and our legislative bodies, especially the very dysfunctional US Congress.
So, Concerned Citizen, the answer to the rest of your questions is a resounding yes.
The next step is not necessarily to start pitching a tent at your nearest “Occupy” government location as in “Now is the winter of our discount tents” (a twist on Shakespeare’s Richard III), but to get involved in some way, shape or form in our great democracy by supporting the community and political issues you believe in by taking action. The biggest enemy of democracy is not the spectrum of political philosophies, but rather ignorance and apathy. A better-informed and more active general population prevents the unethical and immoral 1% to have a disproportionate influence on our lives.
Therefore, it comes full circle. The 99% is you in the mirror. Most of us are average citizens with a set of lofty ethical beliefs who love our country dearly, but many of us have taken our nation’s political process for granted by sidelining ourselves by the demands of life and/or the lure of excessive entertainment. Personal self-reform is not easy but we all could benefit by more community service and more participation in our very special American democracy.
Thank you, Concerned Citizen; your letter has caused me to self-reflect and to pray to be a better American citizen. That’s what I think is the 100% solution from an American spiritual perspective.
Islamic Congregation of La Cañada Flintridge
QUESTION: What is all this hype about 2012? Is the world really coming to an end? Frankly, I’m frightened by all of the doomsday prophecies. I have three children, ages 5, 7 and 9, and I’d like to see them grow up in a safe and peaceful world. Some words of encouragement to help me keep the faith would be helpful.
– Worried Mom
Dear Worried Mom,
Supposedly the world will not see Christmas 2012 as it will cease to exist just days before. But who supposes this? Superstitious people and all their prognostications are based on some expiring calendar of a bygone civilization. Ignore them!
Firstly, the Mayans weren’t prophesying Armageddon, their calendar just completed its cycle and was supposed restart, like when our calendars conclude. We don’t fret their end (except during Y2K, remember?). We simply purchase pretty new ones, drink some champagne, and continue into the New Year.
Secondly, the Mayans were pagans that worshiped scads of mythical deities and to these they sacrificed living human beings to death. Sound like a culture with any godly foresight? Besides, their world ended long ago and apparently they didn’t see that coming.
People have declared “the end is near” since as far as the beginning and even 2011 saw two widely publicized doomsday prophecies that failed, both purportedly Bible-based. Oops…
Look, only God knows the time to wrap things up, but if you’re on his side, you’ll have nothing to worry about. The Bible asks, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). The answer? Nobody!
God is almighty and all knowing; He alone determines earth’s final outcome. But he promises no true end, just a new beginning to those who trust in his Christmas Savior. Do you and your children? If so, be not frightened; you’ll enjoy life together in this temporary world as well as in the lasting one hereafter.
Dear Worried Mom,
All the hype is about the Mayan calendar, which comes to an end in 2012. Some say that this is end of the “first cycle” of time. No one really knows what it means, just as no one really knows anything about a doomsday. I found some comforting scientific debunking on the Discovery News website that you might find helpful.
As you probably already know, Jesus was pretty clear when it came to prophecies about the end time. Specifically, he said, “But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the angels in heaven and not the Son. Only the Father knows” (Mark 13:32). We don’t know, and we can’t know.
So how should we respond? We can’t live in a state of panic – we know from our recent experience with the Station Fire that it is exhausting to maintain the level of adrenaline required to fight or flee. Nor can we embrace a carpe diem laxness about life together on this planet.
Jesus went on to say: “Watch out! Stay alert! You don’t know when the time is coming.” This doesn’t mean that you should wait attentively to be destroyed; it means that you should live your life with care and intention. It means staying busy in the work of building the kingdom of God by raising your children with love and faith, and helping them engage life with the gifts God gave them. It means creating and relishing beauty. It means loving your neighbor as yourself. It means taking active steps toward creating the peaceful world that you envision. These are the ways in which we keep the faith!
Pastor Paige Eaves
Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church