Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy Boston

 So yesterday I spent a few hours occupying Boston.  We started at the Common with mostly student groups and then picked up folks representing various other organizations as it went along.  MassUniting (a coalition of community groups), for example, was listed as a co-sponsor.  This was the same march that eventually ended up in the standoff at the Charlestown bridge.  Of course, if they had put people to work to fix the bridge there would have been plenty of room for everyone.  Needless to say, that was the point....

Actually, my wife and I had stepped out slightly earlier.  If we knew what would happen, maybe we would have hung in there a little longer. However, the kids were hungry and tired.  There was homework to be done and, of course, the two of us had work in the morning.... 

Funny thing, though, to hear and read about Occupy Boston (and the other "Occupies") one might think that all there is to them is a few hundred unwashed hippies on the ten-year plan at their local college or university.  I find this odd. I (as most of you know) am a middle-aged small church pastor from West Dullsville and as I looked around the crowd, I am darn sure I was not the only one.  OK, maybe they weren't all middle-aged pastors but there sure was a lot of grey on quite a few respectable looking heads.  In fact, I don't need to "get a job" do I?  Still, I was there.  Also, my kids weren't the only under-18-year-olds blocking traffic yesterday.  I was pleased to see them take time from suburban kid pursuits to engage in a little direct democracy. 

So...there were older people and younger people making their voices heard and their presence felt.

Furthermore, what's so wrong with college students?  Yes, they were there, and I have heard them referred to in a variety of derogatory ways for their perceived "laziness".   Some folks were concerned that they didn't present well. It is true that they weren't dressed for the Young Republicans meeting.  But wouldn't it be weird if they were?  On the whole I found them to be polite and helpful.  Many of them were certainly working hard, too.  They kept my sons hydrated, gave them cough drops when they couldn't yell anymore, and generally were as welcoming and friendly as young adults can be.  They were good company.  I would hire them, even if they did happen to trip over Rose Kennedy's flowers.

This demographic breadth is important, by the way.  The fact is, Occupy Boston is the result of legitimate concerns and experiences expressed by people who come from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.  Someday (perhaps soon) the encampment will go away, but the situation that brought it about will not.  No doubt there are--right now--any number of pundits trying to pat us on the head and move this movement off the stage, but the problems are real and the message remains even if the messengers change...or aren't quite what some folks would like.

As one Burbanian to another, I would recommend that you go down and see the encampment for yourself.  It isn't very far and they could use the support.  They honestly feel that they are camping for all of us, for the 99%.  I feel that they are, too.  And when we march, we march for all of us, even if we don't all agree.  There is a schedule of events (that does change from time to time), but going over to say "hi" would also be appreciated.  If this isn't your bag, give me a call.  If I have the time maybe I will go with you...

However, do bring them some water or a blanket or something, would you?  It's not all that comfortable a place to be right now.

Here are a couple links:

First the link to MassUniting.  The group affiliated with them that I know best is Mass Community Action Network or MCAN.  I worked with them to help found and interfaith group in the Framingham/Natick area.  Yep...church (and synagogue and mosque) people.

Also, here is the link to Occupy Boston.  Here is a story from the Boston Globe with interviews from some of the not-students who were arrested.

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