Events are moving fast at Occupy Wall Street. Thousands are marching across lower Manhattan and might try to take control of bridges used by commuters. Some injuries have been reported on both sides of the police line.
I am not there, and so I cannot speak to mood or specific actions.
It does seem to me that challenging city authorities to a power duel isn’t the way you “speak truth to power.” The movement’s moral authority has resided in the stories it puts out for all to see. Those stories reveal the far reach of corruption and greed.
Or as my friend Laura Paskell-Brown says in her reports from Zuccotti Park, the movement is about letting people speak and moving beyond hierarchies of power.
If the movement wants to speak on behalf of the 99%, it can’t allow extremists to take control.
FAITH Q & A
Q: I am wondering if there are universal principles which can and should be held up to all religions as “unalienable rights”, and against which no religion could rule?
A: Probably not. I’m sure God has some fundamental principles that God would like to see observed. But I doubt all religions would agree on what they were. I would say “freedom for all persons,” for example. But apologists for apartheid and slavery have said otherwise. I would say “love your neighbor,” but apologists for hatred have said otherwise. So we muddle along as best we can without benefit of certainty.
FROM LAURA PASKELL-BROWN
(Written Tuesday November 15) Reaction was strong all day to the dramatic events this morning in Zuccotti Park. When I showed up at 8pm there was a bigger GA than I have ever seen before. The main difference was that in order to get in one now had to walk through a police barrier. The tents were gone and so ironically enough there was more room for what we really needed to do, which was to ask: where is this movement going, where do we stand, and how do we spread this thing?
First there were the usual announcements, but they had a certain sweetness I haven’t experienced lately, because even though we are no linger there, we are still functioning. Announcements came from medical, kitchen and sleeping groups that they had relocated but were still in operation. The mood was light given the situation, people felt that the movement was stronger because we were proving it wasn’t limited to one square.
The hunger for a discussion of the questions I mentioned above was quite clear. Next we divided into groups of ten to discuss them. Ideas that came up in our group (not all of which I am behind) were:
- Occupying empty or foreclosing houses but keeping the park as a place to congregate each night for the GA
- Occupying and running schools, hospitals and other public institutions.
- Taking back our communities, policing ourselves through local GAs in every borough
- Refusing to vote for Obama, running our own candidates
- Starting to talk less about ‘demands’ (which suggests we are asking ‘them’ to do it for us) and more about ‘goals’ (which recognizes that this movement is about people taking control over their own lives
Some felt this was time to fight the system in general, others felt it was a time to focus on the immediate needs of those we love. Many felt both of those things were possible. It was clear that what we all wanted in the immediate future was more time to have these discussions in small and large groups.
(Laura is a friend of mine, a graduate student at New York University, and a political activist. I have asked her to share her perspectives from time to time. Right now, she’s fully engaged with Occupy Wall Street.)