Why I’m going to visit Occupy Richmond

I am not a political writer or commentator and I don’t consider myself a particularly “political” person (whatever that means). I do try to follow what is happening on the political scene and discern as best I can where the truth is to be found in the 24/7 news cycle that has mesmerized North America.

But I’ve lost the taste for simply toeing a party line because as a “good Christian” (same quotes as political person) that is the line to which I must conform. I can no longer separate myself from another person, because of political affiliation or sexual orientation or beliefs that differ from my own.  This is our natural tendency, to classify, to qualify other people, to find a category in to which they fit and apply the labels. Sometimes we create these classifications, and sometimes we simply take what the guy (or gal) on the radio or tv says and plagiarise their opinions.

What bothers me most when I do that to a group of people is rarely do I actually know someone within that group. At times the church is good at staying clustered within the castle of similar ideas and beliefs, all the while zeroing in on another group to attack — lobbing words like grenades and expelling anyone who does not run to the wall with weapons in hand.

This is not the way of Jesus….and so this cannot be my way either.

There has been a lot on the news about the “Occupy” movement. I am not an “occupy” person, though I do agree that there is much in our government and financial institutions that is broken and must be spoken against by its citizens. I also strongly denounce any of the violence and destruction that has been attributed to certain occupy gatherings — this is not the answer for real and lasting reform.

But I plan to visit the occupy movement in Richmond this week.  I want to do this for a number of reasons. First, because I have formed opinions and categories for a group of people without knowing a single name, or speaking face to face. I imagine there is much that I will disagree with when it comes to Occupy. And yet, I also imagine there is much I will find in common.  I also plan to visit because if I were being honest I have objectified this group of people and arranged them neatly into a category I have been given, without really knowing what they are about or any of the people actually involved.

This way of living is always easier….but again it feels cheap and disassociated with the way of Jesus. A way that always engaged, entertained, and even shared a party with “those people”. Jesus had this Spirit-led way of living with others in which he held truth in one hand and love in the other as he embraced the labeled but faceless people of his day.

And so I plan to visit Occupy Richmond with no agenda other than to meet people, shake some hands, introduce myself, and actually see for myself what they are all about. I hope to report back here as clearly as I can, highlighting the ideas I share in common with the movement as well as the way in which our paths diverge.

As I write this I cannot help but think about other “groups” of people I have already passed judgement on from a distance….probably more than I want to admit to you here.