Thursday, October 13, 2011

a brief report from a (brief) time on the barricades

I spent a couple hours on one corner of government/people's plaza in downtown minneapolis, heart of the hub, last evening with an able complement of fellows from my liberal ecumenical seminary and luther seminary. I dubbed us the amen corner, as all of us are future pastors in our different faiths. we were representative of the faith contingent of people in solidarity with the 99%, a crowd of which we are both members and to whom we minister. (neither were we the only ones; several other pastors and students, some in collars, had been there earlier in the day and earlier in the week.)

I had to leave earlier than I'd intended as the fellow clinician I'd taken responsibility for had another obligation. but in my time there we were constantly and consistently honked at and waved at and given thumbs up and shoutouts by commuters in agreement with our signs--most of which had been penned by 2 women, one lutheran and one uu, and most of which were biblical quotations--without a single negative response to them. I was told the only time any of my compatriots had gotten a negative response was on the previous sunday and it seemed to all be from people wearing vikings paraphernalia. I hesistate to repeat that was not the reaction of everyone in vikings paraphernalia.

I had a couple especially good conversations. one was with a young bhikku in a knit cap and pajama trousers who had graduated high school last year and made arrangements to fly to africa and from there to ship out as a cook on a mercy ship. he wasn't a xian he said, or at least not a very religious one, but he wanted to be part of something bigger than himself and he was frightened and excited by what he expected and hoped for. the other was with a sister who works parttime for a tax preparation company and operates her own online design business. she was just overwhelmed by the number of people in plaza that week--her parttime job was in the tower in front of where we were standing and she looked out on the plaza several times a day--and had also felt overwhelmed by the ways life had gotten tougher and less friendly (my words, I can't remember hers) and knew she needed to make some comment on them. she'd been playing around with making a design but that would make no impact, so she'd been inspired by the protesters on the plaza to decide to come down each day she was at work and join them for a few hours a day, just to be there in support, maybe to hold a sign, maybe to march, maybe just to be there among other people.

on our way off the plaza I swapped thumbsup with several of the people who are actually sleeping under the concrete buttresses and overheads of the government building and told them, "stay warm." because of other responsibilities I may not be able to rejoin them physically, unless the occupation goes on as long as the main one in wall street does, but I will be there in contemplation and spirit and solidarity.

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