I was willing to be arrested to be part of something beautiful.
In the end, it was not my intellectual critique of our current system of economic injustice that led me to stay seated as the police asked us to leave, though my mind believed. It was not my anger and grief at the city’s tragic resort to armed removal of the camp, though my heart was full. It was not even my commitment to the values of justice, equality, and compassion, though I hold nothing closer. It was the chance to be part of something beautiful. To link arms with warm, peaceful bodies. To sing in the face of fear. To sit behind a bank of burning candles, with a banner proudly proclaiming “Interfaith Coalition.” I sat, sang, stood, and was arrested because it was the best way I knew how to participate in paradise, here and now.
My arresting officer walked me down 14th Street, two blocks from the UU church that raised me. His name was also Marcus. “Yeah, just the same as yours, man,” he said warmly. I cherish the human connection we had for a few minutes in the midst of a scene that otherwise represented the forces working to dehumanize us all.
For me, the Occupy movement is not really about blaming people for the mess we’re in. It’s not about clashing with police. Ultimately, it’s not even about Wall Street. It’s about a new vision of society. It’s about finding more creative ways to be in community, to have inclusive decision-making processes, to take care of those in need, and to discover who we are.
Photo: Interfaith clergy held a vigil as Oakland, Calif., police dismantled the Occupy Oakland encampment in the early morning hours of Nov. 14. (Marcus Liefert)
see below for links to related resources, including UU World's coverage of the arrests of UU activists at Occupy Oakland.
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Marcus Liefert is an intern minister at the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church of Berkeley, California, and a seminarian at Starr King School for the Ministry.
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