I’ve been fascinated by the tiny tent village that was once set up on the lawn of old City Hall. I’d drive by, often on my way to Transit, and secretly wish I could join the solidarity of the Occupy Wall Street movement. What began in September last year has now spread to over 100 cities across the United States. It seems people are willing to take a stand against the corruption of colossal banks and multinational corporations, angry at the amount of power these companies so irresponsibly wield. It got me thinking…
What do we stand for? It seems (collectively as a nation at least) we stand against corporate greed. But what about hunger? Upwards of 40 million people go hungry in America daily. And what about slavery? There are more slaves around the globe today than there were during the times when owning a slave was legal. North Carolina alone ranks as the 8th most likely state in the nation where human trafficking takes place. I don’t see organized protests demanding these horrible grievances be remedied.
Why are we willing to stand up against Wall Street, but silent when it comes to the human rights of others? Is it because we feel the pinch of corporate greed in our wallets, but since our own bellies stay full we remain distanced from the real need of hunger? Is it because slavery is such an antiquated idea we can’t even fathom what it looks like in the modern world?
It gets me thinking…
What am I willing to occupy? My answer should be a pursuit to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. Instead of being angry about what the 1% of the rich do with their money, I should be angry about the injustices of poverty and gross violations of freedoms rampant around the world. And I am enraged, but what do I do about it? I quietly donate cans of food and I sign petitions, but where is the passion that gets people to live in tents outside government buildings? Where is the collective outrage that creates a united front to send the message, “we will not stand for this!” I should be shouting from the mountaintops. But I am not.
Jesus occupied with radical love, telling us to not just love our neighbors, but to love our enemies, too. How can we ever hope to get there when we can’t even love and care for our brothers and sisters who daily suffer? We don’t bring the Kingdom when we think it is someone else’s problem, or when we think to give only when there is excess to donate.
This Lenten season, I made a change in my annual ritual of sacrificing something; this year, instead of foregoing dessert or soda, I decided to take something on. I want to occupy my life with the fruits of the spirit: kindness, gentleness, joy, peace, love, and generosity (Galatians 5:22). I want to embrace the message of Jesus, love with radical faith and servitude, and occupy the Kingdom here on earth.
Written by Shawn Buxton. Sources to facts are linked in story.