These thoughts have occupied my head like people have occupied parks, street corners, and communities for the past 4 months or so.
I live in the woods, down a 1/2 mile long dirt driveway, in a big grey house on 10 acre plot of land on top of a mountain. I cannot say I live in the middle of no where, but to some people this might be considered so. Typically, I rarely hear news first hand, unless something crazy happens down the mountain. All the news I hear is exaggerated on the local news stations or on the internet. Often times it is biased and filtered whoever is ‘reporting’ it. For these reasons I don’t tend to follow up on the news a whole lot, instead I get lost in my own worlds and words.
Last week, however, I was driving through Lancaster City, after visiting some friends, and I noticed something different. As I was drove through the city I noticed dozens of tents filling the courtyard of the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design. Now, I used to drive past this college every other day when I lived in Lancaster and I’m used to strange things going on in the courtyard, but this was different. This seemed a bit more organized. My first thought was that it seemed a bit like Woodstock – not that I could really ever tell you what Woodstock was like. There were tents and traps scattered throughout the courtyard with a big booth in the center. Next to it were people huddled closely together in a circle pretending there was a fire to warm their hands over. I was unsure of what was going on, but as I neared the intersection of Prince St. and Chestnut St. I saw a sign that explained everything:
“Occupy Lancaster. Community rally and march, all are welcome.”
Then next to that there was a sign that read:
“We are the 99%”
Now I’ve heard quite a bit about Occupy Wall St. but I had never experienced it first hand. I drove by amazed at the reality that lay before me. There actually were people all around the country rallying and protesting fighting against corrupt greed. This sudden taste of reality took a while to sink in, but when it did something I didn’t expect began to occupy my mind.
As I read the sign that read “We are the 99%” I began to think: “Who then are the 1%?” Now, I know what answer I would get if I were to ask a protester, but I wanted an answer for myself. And as I thought deeper and deeper I heard a man ask Jesus, “Who then is my neighbor?” As I listened I began to hear Jesus tell a story very different than the protestors were telling:
I saw a man beaten and left for dead. I saw a man neglected by people who claimed to be great and godly. Then, I saw a man – an outcast – step down, bandage, care for and love the man beaten on the road. That man on the road was the 1%. And those who passed were the 99%.
Yes, we are the 99%, but we are filled with consumeristic greed. Yes, we are the 99%, but we hoard our money and keep it to ourselves. We want to point the finger and find a villain, but the truth is that we are the villain; I am the villain. Yes, I work hard, yes I make an honest living, but I deserve nothing, and I cannot use my work ethic as an excuse to justify selfish living. Before I can point the finger at corrupt America I need to point the finger at myself. I need to look deep into my soul and see the corruption that lay there-in.
I’m not saying that all our desires are wrong in wanting to see jobs, equality, and unity in America, but we cannot use them as an excuse to overlook ourselves and the 1% all around us. If our protest marches lead us right past the 1% in our communities then we are the worst of the worst, and our words are empty. If we give more of our time to ending corrupt greed than we do to fulfilling the needs of the broken, destitute, and hurting then we are hypocrites.
We are the 99%, and the 1% are all around us waiting for us to step down, bandage, take care of, and love them – and most importantly how can we bring them before the feet of Jesus?
How can you help the 1% today?
*This post is in not directed simply at occupy protesters or at corrupt America, it is simply my observations from that afternoon driving through Lancaster. This post is directed at America, as a whole, and at followers of Christ who need to step up and make a difference. Feel free to let me know your thoughts.