Rejoice! The End Is Near.

Love’s narchy

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Occupy This

I remain fascinated by the Occupy Wall Street movement, though I confess my avidity is waning. I want to be part of the revolution, but the question remains: Is this the revolution I’ve been waiting for? If I lived in a city I’d be there, but Concord is over an hour’s drive away, and its Occupy contingent relatively small. I heard a rumor there was an Occupy event right here in my little home town not long ago, but I didn’t hear about it in time to attend. So much for the power of social media to organize.

The question I and many others have is: What do we, the 99%, want to accomplish? To phrase it more accurately: What do I want the revolution to accomplish?

How many groans will I receive for my answer? I was shocked when I heard my sister, as a teen, shout it from the kitchen:

mystery message

The key to how shall we then live is to be found in the parable of the good Samaritan, which is, like all such ultimate answers, simultaneously easy and difficult. Simple and hard. Obvious and subtle. You get the idea.

I have always had a tendency to read the story with an eye toward the easy way out. Much like those who first heard it. “Who is our neighbor?” they asked. Who, exactly, should we love as we love ourselves? Is it everyone in the whole wide world or only those who live next door? In other words, I (like they) want to fulfill the mission for which Jesus has commissioned me, but I don’t want to have to work too hard or travel too far outside my comfort zone in order to do it.

Jesus’s answer is a bit of a tesseract. On the face of it, the story reveals an astoundingly easy answer: your neighbor is whoever is willing to stop and give you a hand when you’re in need.

Wow. I can do that. I can wholeheartedly love the person who saved my life.

But then, true to form, Jesus turns the moral on its head by saying, “Go thou and do likewise.”

Oh God! You mean I’m supposed to be the good Samaritan?

Yes. That’s exactly what he means. But that doesn’t mean there’s no weasel room left. You see, the Samaritan wasn’t out looking for robbed and beaten folks. He was simply going about his business on a dangerous road, and when he saw the guy that everyone else was passing by, he had compassion on him and stopped to lend a hand. Extravagently, yes, but not constantly. Not every day–just when the need arose. To look at the life of Jesus, such willingness to help can easily turn into an all-day, every-day, world-without-end-until-they-crucify-you deal, but that’s not necessarily the commission.

The commission is simple: Stop turning a blind eye. The task of giving sight to the 1% is all but impossible, but if we the 99% could open our eyes, individually and collectively, I believe that would be revolution enough.