The Occupy Movement

Some people feel that it’s lame for musicians to make public political comments.  I’m one of those people.  I don’t enjoy Angelina Jolie or Billy Joe Armstrong telling me who is gonna be a great president and who’s the worst president in history.  Let’s just say neither of those celebrities is qualified to make such statements.  So I’m not delving into politics here and I think that clarification is important.

I’ve been interested in the Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy movements for awhile now and I’ve been keeping my eye on what’s been happening and how it’s been shaping up.  I’m really fascinated and intrigued by the whole thing and since they got my interest piqued, I’ve wrestled with my feelings on the subject.

Ultimately, I’d like the comments on this blog to be an open forum to speak your mind, but I do feel an obligation to speak my mind.  This of all topics is certainly a subjective viewpoint sort of thing, so feel no pressure to conform (ha! as if…) to other people’s views here.

As I said, I’ve been following the whole thing for awhile and I got way more interested when I got to hang out with my friend Ben Hamilton a few days ago.  He used to live down here in the mountains of north GA with us, but he moved to NYC a few years ago.  He’s been very involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement for months and was even in news clips on Fox News and a OWS sketch on SNL (seriously).

The picture that Ben painted of OWS was one of the most unique things I’ve ever heard/seen.  Hearing first-hand accounts of these events instead of hearing what the news articles polish it out to, I realized this is a battle.  Literally.

I said earlier that I hate when musicians endorse a political party or candidate.  That’s not what I’m doing.  I’m told OWS people tend to be more liberal.  I don’t consider myself liberal.  But if I had to pick a side, I’d be part of the OWS side in this battle.  Obviously I’m not so gung-ho on this that I’m moving to a city and joining the fight.  I believe if you feel that strongly, you should throw away the normalcy of life and join the battle, much as Jesus called Simon to do.  So I’d go join the fight if I thought it was of utmost importance and I will go if this thing continues to grow and gets insane.  But I’ll definitely say I’m not on the other side.  The NYC police are doing so many things that are just, honestly, wrong to do to humans, especially humans not posing a physical threat to the public.

Ben said politics isn’t discussed hardly ever in the OWS camps/meetings.  The movement is about fraud, insider trading, greed, illegal business practices and has come to include things like police brutality as a result of all the mishandling of the situation on the part of law enforcement.  I can agree with standing against those things and even though one normally wouldn’t go overboard to oppose those things when they happen from time to time, it seems like we’ve seen a nation-wide commitment to these horrible traits when it comes to the financial decision makers who control vast amounts of the nations spending power.

Sometimes any Christian or citizen is asked to stand and fight against not only spiritual tyranny, but also against social injustice or national evils.  Is this one of those times?  And if so, what is the proper response for you?  I feel it’s best to discuss and continue gathering information for now.  What are you doing/refraining from doing/remaining ignorant about in this matter?

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  • shumanjisan

    I agree with the concept behind the movement. I honestly just don’t know if the method is the best. From an outsider’s perspective, it appears like the ideals have been pushed to the point that the dialogue on each side is more about hatred than anything that could provide beneficial discussion. I think that the Church should keep doing what it has been doing, which is to provide aid silently at a local level. Is this effective enough? That is probably the big question for me, I have to admit.

    • countseth

      Good thoughts! I would probably agree with you that the churches as organizations should probably continue to provide aid silently at the local level. Apparently, churches are also somewhat divided on how to respond to this movement.

  • Richard Hale

    You presented your case in a very unbiased way, and I approve of that! However, I stand somewhere in the middle. I agree that corporations are wrong. But I believe the occupy movements are wrong. You mentioned nothing of the illegalities that the protestors are doing. Pooping on cars, cursing at innocent bystanders, peeing and having sex in public, and assaulting police. Sure, police are doing wrong, but that does not excuse the wrong of the Occupy people. The occupy movement stands with no true leadership and no true purpose. They just shout “against the establishment.” Other people have given it a purpose. So I stand with their purpose, but against their method. I don’t believe breaking the law is God’s will.

    • countseth

      You’re very close to where I stand, I think. The behavior of certain people involved with OWS is discouraging to me and represents the unwieldiness of any revolution. My friend Ben explained that at the beginning, there was a huge discussion about how OWS should be run and the anarchist faction won out. So there was a consensus to purposely avoid any central leadership and to ignore any laws the government had that seemed unjust.

      That is not a path I think is best and that’s part of why I’m refraining from involvement for now. But yeah, you and I see things somewhat similarly on this topic.

      • Richard Hale

        I believe it will take God entering back into the hearts of government officials, and men and women in power to truly change something.

        1 Peter 2:13-17 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

        Unless the government is going against GOD’S law, we are to submit (even unwillingly to a bad government). There is a way to do this without the law breaking.

      • countseth

        Let me address that point of view with a thought I had yesterday about what you’ve said. Normally I would agree right off with you, but after mulling it over, I think there may be another aspect here.

        Is it ok to break the silly Sabbath laws in order to make a point about how the maker of those silly laws are breaking bigger laws? When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, He was disobeying the authority and laws of the Jews. But He did so to show the corruption in the hearts of the lawmakers: the Pharisees. Do Jesus’s actions give us a model to follow? Did Jesus or even Paul or Peter simply sit back and wait and pray for a change of heart in government officials?

        I’m a Reformed guy, so I believe in the basic sinfulness of man. So I don’t expect a change, widespread in the heart of man anytime soon. In the meantime, aren’t we called to affect change in the culture?

        Now again, this is not to endorse the actions of all involved with OWS. What I’m talking about is the goals of OWS and the idea of rebellion in order to cause change.

  • Josiah

    Well, I don’t see how camping out in the city parks and staying there for months just creating a ruckus and all that is doing anything about the things you mentioned or that they talk about. That doesn’t create any change. I think they are a bunch of freeloaders, personally. All that “we are the 99% junk”. They’ve made it clear that they think the rich should give up their money since they have more if it. There is quite a bit of anti-Capitalism sentiment in the group, judging by the videos and stories online.

    • countseth

      Part of the point of this blog was to give an insider’s view of what was going on. Previous to my conversation with Ben, I was only able to judge by the videos and stories online just like you. You can always count on the news companies to give each article/video a spin and tell the story with a twist.

      Now to be sure, since Ben is involved in the OWS movement, I’m sure he has a bias as well. But he was able to give eye-witness accounts of how the police block the press, what happens in the paddy-wagons, and what OWS is trying to accomplish.

      And my question to you would be this: If you were a regular citizen (in other words, not a politician, lobbyist or person with power), and you felt that a certain social class had lived decades of commitment to a specific sort of crime, how would you go about affecting change? Voting at this point is more of an exercise in expression more than a tangible movement toward change, so perhaps loud, obnoxious action is required?

      • Josiah

        I am mostly referring to videos such as on youtube, from the local people who aren’t affiliated with the any media.

        Well, I’d probably do something more than just camp out somewhere and try to draw attention to me. This is why I see this as just a bunch of nonsense, because I don’t see this as any movement. A movement would be like the tea party, which didn’t just gather a bunch of people and make noise about all they disliked in government. They went out and actually created change by informing people and then voting and sweeping a key election, just last year. If they had done what these guys are doing, I think it’s pretty safe to say that those elections would have had a vastly different outcome.

        I’m not trying to be partisan here, but that is what I see as a real movement. Grassroots activism, not camping out and creating commotion.

  • Rachael

    I agree with you on that too. However, keep in mind that I do consider myself an anarchist yet I do have some different beliefs from the common anarchists. Eventhough I rarely ever pay any attention to the news anymore (since I basically lost all hope and respect for our government a long time ago), from what I’ve seen/heard of the OWS movement I’d have to say it seems pretty pointless and idiotic to me. I’m glad the people are finally beginning to understand how truly horrible our government is (and i say that because of the people who run it), but really, OWS’s method is just not going to work especially with the way the majority of the people involved behave. what really gets me about this movement is how they also involve Christ in their rallies. Jesus never had anything to do with allowing that kind of behavior and based from scripture, He certainly doesn’t encourage it. the people in the OWS movement are basically just using Jesus’s name just to gain a better standing and even sucker in other people who would be stupid enough to follow them.

    • countseth

      Hm, I wasn’t aware of OWS using Jesus’s name. What I mentioned in the blog was just my thought. I haven’t heard anything about that, so I can’t comment on it, really.

  • Rachael

    p.s I meant that @ Josiah

  • Kyle Scharton

    First of all I admit some ignorance of the Occupy movement, but it does seem to be anti-capitalism. In my opinion putting restrictions on the free market only shifts the corruption from the large corporations to the government. In some cases this even allows the government to pick and choose which corporations to subsidize and which to regulate more. To me capitalism is freedom, a system were people can choose to be greedy or generous with what they have, and it’s up to us to take advantage of that freedom and work within the system to fight greed and corruption wherever it is. I would definitely support a movement of that does that; I just not sure that’s Occupy.

  • Chad Mercer

    I think when you step back and look at the big picture, the two big populist movements of recent times–the Tea Party & the Occupy groups–each have about half of the story right. The key is understanding that it’s a bigger problem than either of them acknowledge.

    Big government + big corporations = FAIL

    The Tea Party attacks big government, but they fail to understand that it’s the big corporations that are buying government influence that cause most of the problems.

    The Occupy movement attacks big business, but they fail to understand that it’s only the force of government that allows these big businesses to crush the competition.

    All of the regulations that “keep companies accountable” and “fight for the little guy” actually cause more problems than they solve. Small to medium-sized businesses cannot afford to comply with the regulations because they don’t make enough money to dedicate entire departments to do so. And individual entrepreneurs are completely screwed.

    Look at some of John Stossel’s recent investigations into licensing of hair braiding and taxis–it’s nothing more than the entrenched businesses trying to keep out the competition.

    Again, the problem is not business. It’s also not (constitutional, limited) government. It’s the collusion between the two that causes the problems.

    And just for the record, I’m completely opposed to BOTH major political parties, because they have proven time and time again that they’re just in the pockets of big business. Who bailed out the banks and expanded Medicare? Republican George W Bush. Who expanded the wars in Afghanistan after promising to bring all the troops home? Democrat Barack Obama.

    Look at what they do, not what they say. And realize that behind almost every single movement in government, there’s a lobbyist making a killing.

    Remove the exchange of regulations for cash that’s going on in government today, and many of the problems we have right now dissolve.

    Seth, you shouldn’t have gotten me started. :)

    • countseth

      Well-stated, Chad! I agree with pretty much everything you just said. This is to apex of the conversation so far. Now if we could just figure out how to unite the Tea Party peeps and the OWS peeps to create a megalithic freedom-creating machine! Mwahahahaha!

    • Josiah

      Well put. But personally I think that the at the root of this, it is the, not just big, but huge government that creates this situation. Yeah, big corporations can create problems when they are corrupt, but think about it. If they are lobbying in Washington and trying to get regulations passed, or anything they want done that will benefit solely them or mostly just them, it’s in the hands of the government people to decide what happens. All they have to do is say no. Businesses only have real power when the government is on their payroll and working for their good. If we have people of real honesty and integrity in government then we will be well off. It was the government after all that actually REQUIRED the banks to offer people sub-prime loans.

      I MAYbe a biased, ‘crazy right-winger’, but that’s my opinion. Big government = big problems.

      • countseth

        Point well-made. And you’re right about the sub-prime loans requirements that the government enforced. Lots of people overlook/are ignorant of that fact.

        Do you think there is a problem with the distance between voters and the elected representatives? I feel like maintaining hope of holding politicians accountable is nearly impossible at this point, with so many citizens devaluing each vote and so many politicians and issues that if we’re gonna work and take care of our own lives, how do we have time to be watchdogs on the political or business corruption?

        I think that’s part of an underlying problem with both big government and big business.

  • Josiah

    I think there is a limit on the amount of replies, so I must post a new comment.

    But do I think there’s a problem with the distance between voters and the representatives? Very much so!
    I think the problem is that having a government job like that has become such a luxury, with the large amount of money they make, all the perks and everything else that comes with the title, that the elected (not all, but a good deal) start to care more about their title than they do about the actual job they were entrusted with. When America started out it wasn’t a career to be president, congressman or any other government worker, it was a SERVICE to the people. And as time has gone on and government has grown, more people have just become corrupt politicians. Republicans and democrats both. And as government grew and grew and became more involved in every part of our lives and now is a gigantic machine that seems to have no end in it’s workings, we’ve taken on an attitude like ‘oh well, I really don’t like this so and so, but what can I do about it, I’m just one person?’. But now, I really think people have begun to pay attention and become active to get things changed for the better.

    I have so many thoughts on all of this stuff, but when I try to verbalize it or write it all down, It’s like I don’t know where to begin! Haha… So lets leave with a quote, shall we?

    “If once the people become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves (That’s right, wolves. With sharp teeth and all!). It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions.” – Thomas Jefferson

  • Pete

    Personally I want to thank Seth and BTA for standing up and saying
    “Hey, Christians(and people), pay attention to what is happening in your world!”

    Addressing real issues, not just “how awesome was that show last night!”
    which is good in itself, but not to be consumed by that!

    So thank you

    Also, as an Australian, I dont know a whole lot about Occupy at the moment, I mean I dislike the media because as Seth said, the media always have their spin on it due to political bias/endorsements or social pressure from particular groups.

    I would prefer the news as it is, instead of all polished up, so I try to steer clear of that!

    I agree with Seth also, that the brokeness and sinfulness of the heart of man is a big contributor to the said issues. I have always felt that corporations and the way the western world is set up is a problem, Rich getting Richer and poor getting poorer. But I understand that the world is going to go this way, because the heart of man wil only grow darker! That being said, I know it is my part to stand up and do what I believe Christ would do, and follow the Holy Spirit guide.
    Personally I think prayer plays a huge part here, knowing God as the Eternal and All=powerful One, He can intervene so i think that personal prayer over the situation and even joint prayer is a requirement.
    But action is required as well, the churches doing their part silently and essentially taking the battle on their knees is a good thing, but i also think something drastic may need to happen!
    Hence why seeking God in personal time is important, prayer coupled with going about the day and not just hiding in the house and thinking you need to wait for an answer, He will often lead you as you step forward!

    My wife has just taken up missions work in Vanuatu in the last few months.
    I really encourages me to see her doing this, I see in her a real love that has grown, I can see Christ in her, I long to see this in so many, just by following what God is telling them to do. Myself included!

    I hate seeing this world grow darker, but I rejoice because I know my King will return soon!

    Sorry, just had to share, maybe its jibberish but I had to put it out there!!!

    • countseth

      Thank you for sharing and welcome from Australia! How’s the land down under doing politically and economically right now?

  • Rich

    All I can say is revert back to scripture. Youll figure out exactly whats happening.
    Corporations influenced government to remove regulations. They been doing this for years. Many years. Their goal is to enslave everyone. Reduce the population and sterilize us.Get control by having a police state like China. Remember that Corporations are not ruled by any one government. They do not see things from a political perspective. These are globalists who want Global control. With Obama they have been able to speed this up. The laws that are in place now open the door for any Americans to be detained indefinitely by military. Yes the military has the legal jurisdiction to arrest and detain American citizens without due process. All you have to do disagree with the War on terror and they have a legal right to arrest you now. NDAA says it all. They put poisons in your food your water that is know to cause breast cancer and infertility. Bill gates recently stated that he not only wants the depopulation of the world but claims we can accomplish this through vaccinations, healthcare etc. David Suzuki, Ted Turner, Rockefeller and many many others all have gone on record stating they want population control.
    U.S. Governments been building fallout shelters and underground bases like crazy. Why? I could go on and on but a little research reveals all of this. The MSM is blatantly lying to the people. Its really disgusting how bad it is getting. We may not know the days ahead or the time when the end will come but the devil is on the loose as always trying to accomplish the same thing. Eventually prophecy will catch up with the times. Maybe were in the beginning of the end maybe its a transitional. Regardless whats going on you need to be informed and involved because this affects us all. Hands down you have been my favorite band and I could care less what your political views are. All I ask is that you dont lose site of the truth. Gods truth. Look up Gerald Celente. He can give you great insight.

    • countseth

      Wow. You believe many things. Wow.

  • Bob

    My only experience with OWS has been members trying to intimidate me because I’m “rich” middle class “scum” -.- so it goes without saying that I’m not much of a fan.