So many of you are angry. So many wounded. So many want better jobs and higher wages. Where there is injustice, where there is pain, where there is no hope, I want to stand with you, as one Occupier texted me, “for your children’s sake.”
Amongst the most direct of the biblical injunctions is Micah 6:8:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
“Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.” Three strands so intrinsically interwoven that to emphasize one at the expense of the others diminishes their effect, and sometimes causes more harm than good.
Act justly. To right wrongs. To replace self-interest with the commitment to care about and for the needs and rights of my fellow human beings. To stand up for the oppressed at the risk of my own comfort, power or position. To seek change where darkness reigns. To develop the art of listening, and to seek truth and wisdom and insight, and then to act in accordance with the justice I value.
Love mercy (kindness). No man or woman, then, is an enemy, for all carry the burden of navigating this highly complex and precarious world we occupy together. It is the systems we have constructed, and the structures we have relied on, that enable and even empower our brothers and sisters the power to tear down, to hurt, to break. It is the structures, and systems, and ways that history so easily brings out the worst in us that need correction. People need compassion.
People are gifts. All people. Those who agree with us, and those who disagree. We belong to each other, and we need each other to get us through the mess we leave behind. The majestic power of the US civil rights movement was an unshakable commitment to non-violence, and the love for others – all others, oppressor and oppressed alike. At its core, loving kindness and mercy is to respect my neighbor – my neighbor’s rights, my neighbor’s livelihood, my neighbor’s property, my neighbor’s role in society and my neighbor’s perspective on issues. To love kindness and mercy is to see that banker, that activist, that child, that addict, that cop, that veteran, that Republican, that Democrat, that homeless brother and that business owner sister as my family.
Walk humbly with my God. To me, God’s reign is unquestioned, and unshakable. Our interpretation of and partnership with that reign is what is to be held lightly. It is God who reigns, and we who serve.
“To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Three strands, woven together, one message, one mandate, one lifestyle, one calling.
To my friends in the “Occupy” movement: as you hold these strands together, I stand with you; ignore or deny any of these, even in the service of “the cause,” and life is out of balance, and ultimately people are hurt.
History has proven that civil disobedience rooted in social justice and bounded by unfiltered mercy is a noble cause that changes nations. History has also shown that civil disobedience driven by self interest, unfair labeling, irresponsible rhetoric or blind ignorance spawns the seeds of anarchy where no one wins.
As Lynne K. Varner wrote in the Seattle Times today, "Anger needs a home but don't let this outburst fizzle. Let it morph into a slow burn of political consciousness...After we march, we vote."
May the Occupy movement be marked by those who act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.