Posted by: smstrouse | October 27, 2011

“And the Sign Said the Words of the Prophets Are Written on Subway Walls . . .”

I’ve got Simon & Garfunkel on my mind; can’t get ‘Sound of Silence’ out of my head. The signs that I saw on the march on Monday with the ‘Interfaith Leaders in Solidarity with Occupy Wall Street’ are indeed ‘the words of the prophets.”

But now news reports are swirling around the movement. Especially the developments in Oakland. Opinions abound. Some support the protesters and decry the violence of the police. Others claim that the city gave fair warning and protest leaders were unresponsive and uncooperative in working out an agreement. Who to trust? What to believe?

Maybe it’s somewhere in the middle. Certainly there are elements of the movement that are unfocused and undisciplined. And there seems to be a case of amnesia in Oakland about what happens when you send police in riot gear into a crowd of demonstrators. But there are many more protesters who are focused on the core issues. And there is truth to the realities of the health issues of the encampments.

What we need are community leaders who are skilled in negotiating the difficult pathway through the rhetoric to true movement-building. Because the bottom line is that it’s time for the ‘sound of silence’ to be over. The Occupy movement is a primal scream of frustration, anger, despair – and conviction. That’s why I marched on Monday. The messages on the signs say it all. This is a spiritual issue that cuts across religious tradition and denominational lines.

We should not become distracted by the messiness of this emerging movement. Instead we should support the people of good will who are trying to bring it together. As Father Louie Vitale said on Monday, “There is certainly some of the usual expressive behavior of the counterculture in terms of dress and revolutionary rhetoric. But it’s not the heart of what’s going on. What they’re really trying for everywhere is a paradigm shift, and a lot of that has to do with the new idea of what the middle class is after losing ground for years.”

Don’t be distracted. Be part of the change you want to see. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice.

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