Just last March, I wrote in the congregational newsletter that I had that early Quaker song in my head: “Through all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing. It sounds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing!” The reason that hymn was stuck in my head was the historic revolutions against oppressive regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria during the spring.
But autumn is here, and as some have noted, the “Arab Spring” is turning into the “American Fall”. I must admit, the song running through my head this time isn’t a hymn. Instead, it’s the words of Bob Dylan: “The order is rapidly fadin’ / And the first one now will later be last / For the times they are a-changin’.”
There are a few social actions in the works this fall, including “Stop the Machine –Create a New World” (starting in Washington, D.C. on October 6), organized by social justice leaders around the country. The action will highlight “human needs, not corporate greed”.
But as potentially momentous as “Stop the Machine” is, the social action that has taken just about everyone by surprise has not been organized by “the usual suspects” at all. I’m talking about the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, which has grown into an “Occupy Together” movement all over the USA, including “Occupy Boston”. According to the declaration, “… the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors…. no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people… run our governments.”
Who organized this movement against “Corporatocracy”? It’s hard to say! It’s a leaderless, de-centralized action. But what does seem clear is that it is largely the Millennial Generation making it happen. I keep thinking about the things I learned last year when researching my sermon on the American generations – about how the Millennial Generation (those born between 1982 and 2001) tend to be good at working collaboratively; interested in issues of economic injustice; and civic-minded (see Howe and Strauss). The “Occupy” movement so far does not have set demands. It will go on indefinitely, seemingly a whole new kind of protest. No one can say exactly where this is going; “the wheel’s still in spin / And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’”, to quote Dylan again. But I must say that it gives me hope.
In the upcoming days and weeks, I hope to visit Occupy Boston to show my support and deliver supplies. In the meantime, I just signed up to join a virtual march that is happening today to show my support. You can join the virtual march too: click here to find out more.