By Blogger Deb Conklin
Over the last month, I’ve been spending time with Occupy Spokane. I’ve marched, held signs, waved at friendly passers-by, and attended their General Assembly. For the last two weeks, I’ve helped facilitate the Assembly. Some folks have been asking why I’m spending my time this way, what does it have to do with the church? My answer is that it has EVERYTHING to do with the church.
The current, ever-widening gap between the very rich and everyone else is THE social justice issue of our day – for America and for the world. As the multinational corporations become ever more powerful, they become more and more oppressive to the poor and middle class. Measure after measure shows that the upper 1 percent continues to increase their share of the wealth while the rest of us have less and less. And with that wealth comes power.
On the world scale, these huge corporations (mainly created in America) and the international organizations that support them, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, are using economic blackmail to push countries to adopt policies that favor the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and middle class. In countries like Greece, Italy, Scotland and Iceland governments are pressured to pass ‘austerity measures’ that hurt the poor and middle class in order to bail out the rich banks. Just as in America, those who’ve created the financial crises with their greed and lust for power are demanding that governments cut social programs to bail out capitalists.
For too long the churches – the mainline churches, including our own United Methodist Church and others – have been reticent, if not silent on this issue. Now other groups – young people who can’t find jobs, college graduates who have massive school loans and no jobs, middle-aged people who’ve been laid off because of the recession and are unable to find new jobs – these people have started a movement that is saying what The Church should have been saying for decades: The system is broken and it must be fixed. It is too late for the church to lead this justice movement. But it is not too late to give it our support.
If we are to have a future, we MUST speak out on this issue. The true Judeo Christian tradition is all about economic justice – it always has been and always will be. The question is whether we will follow that tradition, or abandon our heritage. This is also a survival issue for the United Methodist Church. The train of social and economic change has left the station. If we do not jump on, we will lose another generation of passionate, caring, committed young people. And if we do that, our tradition is doomed. If we do not reclaim our prophetic voice, we should just close our doors now.
Join me in this call for a just system! Join me at “The Triangle” with Occupy Spokane. Join the Saturday marches. Bring a pot of hot soup to “The Triangle” for lunch or supper to feed those who are speaking on behalf of all 99 percent of us. Let’s DO something!