Phase 2 of Occupy Wall Street begins today, now that New York City police have removed protesters camping there. We will see whether this protest can retain its laser-like focus on greed and corruption and not get sucked into rage over losing their encampment.
I certainly hope they can. The point of this important movement was the widening gap between haves and have-nots and the determination of the mega-haves to do anything, even subvert democracy, to fill their barns.
The point, at least I saw it, wasn’t to set up a tent city, but to give frustration and pain a physical presence. The point wasn’t to oust the fat-cats from their dens, but to “out” them, to show the extent to which their greed has hurt the majority of Americans. The point wasn’t to paralyze Wall Street, but to make our economy more humane.
Those remain important goals. I applaud these creative young adults for changing the political dialog.
FAITH Q & A
Q: What questions would you ask presidential candidates concerning their faith if you had the opportunity?
A: I would want to know if their faith allows ample room for religious diversity, so that people of their faith, other faiths and no particular faith are all going to treated equally. I would want to know if their faith allows for tolerance of ways of living unlike their own. I would want to know how they view the foundation of ethics in a nation of such diversity.
FROM LAURA PASKELL-BROWN
I went to see Mary Poppins on Broadway this week. Having been obsessed as a kid I thought it would be silly not to go. Little did I imagine that it might spark thoughts on Occupy Wall Street.
Consider: Mr Banks has done everything that has been asked of him; he has been an all-round responsible man. Still he ends up miserable and possibly out of a job. Along comes Poppins to teach him that even if he loses the job, that prosperity can be found elsewhere: in the flow of giving and receiving between people.
The song at the end of the show (which is not featured in the film) reminds us that the cages we live in are mental and have been self-fabricated. Thus, when we challenge the ideas that keep us trapped “Anything can happen if you let it”. The final words of this song struck me especially:
"If you reach for the stars, all you get are the stars, but we found a brand new scheme. If you reach for the heavens, you get the stars thrown in!"
An excellent reminder that OWS needs to be about asking for more than a simple redistribution of material wealth. This is simply asking for the stars. Heaven, however, is reached when we break free from the misconception that happiness lies in any of these material things. Poppins reminds us that ‘heaven’ is full of the freedom to act in love, and is full of bright colors, spoonfuls of sugar and lots of laughter.
How do we find these things? We have to look in places we have so far refused to search: to those we thought below us (chimney sweeps) or places we never thought to go (the rooftops - aka our higher selves). We could reach out for the stars of material things but instead we could reach out to each other in love and find heaven.
And to those who want OWS to come out with a firm mission statement, I believe I now have the perfect response: “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”
My friend Laura Paskell-Brown is a graduate student at New York University and an active participant in Occupy Wall Street. I have asked her to share her perspective in this blog from time to time.