01-10-2011 - Traces, n. 9

inside america
by lorenzo albacete

The light at the end
of the tunnel

What do the thousands of protesters really want? If this question is not addressed, the “Occupy Wall Street” movement risks becoming just another player in the struggle for power, missing the chance to discover what can respond.

I have been thinking about the end of the world. The “Occupy Wall Street” (OWS) movement has made me think about it. The question has been raised: What do these thousands and thousands of protesters want? In a recent commentary written for CNN (cf. “What will victory look like for Occupy Wall Street?”) strategist and political commentator Sally Kohn asks, “Will politicians start paying more attention to people instead of profits? Will the ‘99%’ persuade the ‘1%’ to be more compassionate? Will the protests spawn a new generation of engaged citizens, the ‘flower power’ for the 21st century? If the occupations aren’t forcibly ended by authorities, how will they stay visible in our easily distracted society? And how will the protesters stay warm and dry?”
When she asked these type of questions to Occupy Wall Street organizer Jesse Myerson, he replied that the question about the meaning of victory for OWS was a “dumb question.” It is not. Not to ask such a question is to open yourself to ideological and political manipulation by means of the “reduction of desire” that sets boundaries to our quest for truth.
According to Kohn, “Americans had become shockingly complacent in the face of outrageous inequality and injustice, seeming to defend the special rights of yacht-owning ‘job creators’ while swallowing the notion that millions of our fellow citizens can be both working and poor. One poster at Occupy Wall Street read, ‘The light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off.’ That we’re now having a public debate about inequality and the ugly road to nowhere on which many hardworking Americans are traveling suggests that, whatever Occupy’s ultimate agenda, the process of movement building–the fact of its existence–may be its essential point.”
The problem is that without a clear vision of what is moving this movement, it won’t remain a movement for long. It will become another player in the struggle for power, or a paralyzing complacency will set in again. In the end, OWS will have changed nothing. Which brings us to the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ. Christianity was born as a movement. The Church can be understood as a movement that does bring about a change in the way we look at and experience reality, setting us free from ideological and political manipulation. And what is it that moves us? It is the opening of our hearts to the infinite Love that is building a truly new creation. The Church could be seen as the “Occupy the Kingdom Movement” (OKM) by witnessing to the Love that is creating it. This is what we call hoping for “the end of the world.”
Kohn does not think that it matters “how their story ends but how long they can keep it going, growing public consciousness and building pressure for change.” “At this time,” said one of the organizers, “we are only interested in impossible demands.” Impossible demands? OKM members know that the demands of the human heart are not impossible. The end is not built by us, but through us, through our free response to the Love given us. For us, the End, the Kingdom, is Someone. The end of the world, our end of the world, is the Second Coming of this Someone to us. He first came to us “in the humility of the flesh,” as the Advent Preface proclaims–and He will come back to us in the splendor of His glory.
In our encounter with Him through the life of the Church, we have already “seen His glory” (prologue, John’s Gospel). Now it is up to our freedom. Freedom is to be a constitutive part of our final destiny. The end of the world is thus also a judgment. Our hope is the knowledge that our Judge is also our Savior.