Why? (#OWS #OccupySF #OccupyOakland)

I was going to sit and write an anecdote about a conversation I had the other day with someone who felt that charities could provide all the social services needed to help people out. I pointed out that, if it was a perfect world, and there was no discrimination (class, race, sex, gender, etc), then that might work.

But we don’t live in that society.

I don’t mind listening to opposing viewpoints, in fact, I love a good debate if the other person respectfully listens and thinks about what I’m saying.

Unlike the person I was talking to, most don’t. Most of the ones I’ve engaged with in some way have spouted things about “dirty, filthy protestors” or “well, they should just get jobs” or “they should come up with demands!” or “if they weren’t protesting they could find a job!” or “What are they protesting about?” They also spout things like “Oh, they deserved to be pepper-sprayed!” or “well, they shouldn’t provoke the police!” (when there is no evidence of provocation). My favorite is: “well, if they just worked hard enough, then they would be fine! I mean, I worked hard and have X, Y, Z, so they can do it too!”


I could give lots of examples about people getting sick and going bankrupt, or being denied services because they made slightly too much money to qualify for government assistance. Or people like my mom who was out of work for almost two years, who has a BA and MBA and got both while putting me through school and college as well. She’s lucky she found something recently, but there are many more that I know who are running into 2 or 3 years of unemployment. And those retail jobs that people tell them to get? Well, I tried that a few times after I got my degree, and I always get a “why are you applying here?” look, a pat on the back, and no job.

I could give all these examples, but I have a question for those who think I’m a cracked hippie seminarian: Why?

Why do you have no compassion for your fellow human beings?

Why are you willing to let people become homeless and poor just because they, supposedly, didn’t work as hard as you did?

Why are some of you so hot on claiming Jesus as your “personal lord and savior” and yet are so quick to spout hate at those who are different from you?

Why are some of you claiming to be doing the work of God and Jesus by claiming war and supporting violence against other religions here and overseas?

Why do you believe that your rights and privileges are better than those who are a different race, creed, sexuality, class, and gender?

Why do you think it’s ok to let people die by inches?

Why were tea party folks allowed to express their first amendment rights without issue, yet average people expressing their first amendment rights are somehow unpatriotic and un-American?

Seriously, do you really believe this? Do you really think that people are that expendable?

I want to know. I want to know why people think that even the rights of “dirty, filthy protestors” are somehow less than theirs? What makes your first amendment rights somehow superior?

Because, really, if you claim to have a morality of some sort (whatever religion you believe or don’t), the idea of people dying because of inadequate healthcare, or having to choose between food and rent, or food and heat, or food and medicine, or because they end up homeless, or being pepper-sprayed and beaten for their convictions, or being unemployed for no lack of trying on their part, or put in any situation where no matter how much they play by the rules, they just can’t keep up, SHOULD DISTURB YOU.

If it doesn’t, why?

Please, explain to me why you feel this way. Don’t give me the Fox News platitudes, or anything like that. Explain to me from your heart.

Explain to me, as a fellow human being, why you feel that these things are ok.

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