Many Americans, and other people in the world, are not happy with the status quo. We have always had people in our lifetimes who have gathered to protest but this tendency seems to have greatly increased of late. The protests in the spotlight now are the ones on Wall Street. The protesters maintain that 99% of the people are paying the price for the way the other 1% live and this needs to change. The reaction to the protests range from total support to total opposition to the protesters.
What makes me uncomfortable as a Christian and as an American is the number of people who seemed to be opposed to protesters in general. It doesn’t matter what they are protesting or what the issue is. They just think protests are disorderly and unpatriotic and, whatever their cause, they oppose them simply for being protesters. Yet, this is one of the basic rights (the right to assembly) for which our forefathers (and mothers) fought for and sometimes died. The freedom of assembly has helped change much in our society for the better (integration, banning child labor, and giving women the right to vote are just but a few). And it is Biblical as well. Jesus tells the story of the widow and the unjust judge to show that sometimes, even when the system seems stacked against us, persistence can pay off.
The problem I have with these current protesters is not necessarily what they are protesting but where they are protesting. Wall Street is not set up to respond to the will of the people. Companies and corporations are designed to make money. They offer no guarantee of petition or even an interest in changing due to protests. And the only ones who can change their behavior is the government which sets the rules by which the corporations and companies must legally run.
Many people are fed up with the government right now. They feel the politicians are bought and sold and petitioning them won’t change anything. But the government is the only tool with which the will of the people can be expressed. Unless the protesters turn violent (which sometimes happens but only to the detriment of the protesters) the only thing I expect the people on Wall Street to do is yawn and keep about their business of making money for their stockholders and their board members.
The real issue at hand is how we respond when what is in a company’s or a corporation’s best interest is not in the best interest of the majority of our citizens. Are we willing to stand up and set boundaries or not?
The overwhelming majority of folks on Wall Street are patriotic Americans. They do want to do without wanting to hurt anyone. Nevertheless, do we as a people, continue to endorse the idea that our government is the one who is the final arbiter of what is in the best interest of our nation or not? If the government is, it is time to move the protests. If it is not, we are all in trouble and the protests will go nowhere (at least no where good).
I am neither an advocate of a weak government that rubber stamps everything or an authoritarian one that must approve everything. But there does need to be an entity that looks out for all of our best interests and where that is in our system is in Washington D.C., not New York City. If it is time to protest, let the protests be there.
And right, or wrong, left or right, let us celebrate that people can freely protest in our society and be thankful most are not be thrown in jail for expressing their views as happens in so many other countries. It is something to celebrate, not condemn.
I pray for the folks who recognize we need to change. I pray even more that our people recognize and not go around the system that is already there to help them make those changes.
What do you think?
Until next time,