All who saw the 2000 film “The Patriot” surely were horrified when British General Banastre Tarleton ordered colonists locked inside a church, which was then set afire.
May 14, 1961, just outside of Anniston, Ala., segregationists set fire to a bus carrying “Freedom Riders,” with the intent to incinerate everyone inside.
Freedom Riders were white and black volunteers, idealists, many of them persons of strong faith who took seriously Jesus’ teachings about our responsibilities to work for the Kingdom of God, as well as Thomas Jefferson’s words that all men are created equal. The moral witness of nonviolent resistance, the sight of black children attacked with police dogs and fire hoses ultimately forced our national conscience to act.
The Occupy Wall Street protestors are today’s Freedom Riders, focusing our awareness on the institutional violence perpetrated by the ever-growing transfer of wealth from Main Street to Wall Street. Institutional violence is when 29 miners died in the unsafe Massey Energy mine April 2010.
It is institutional violence when mine CEO Don Blankenship bought off friendly Republican legislators with “campaign donations” while coal industry executives were trusted to enforce worker safety. The miners wrote letters to their families, to be opened if they died in the mine.
It is institutional violence when 50,000 worthy Americans die yearly as their care is not a source of the record profits currently raked in by the health insurance industry.
It is violence when the crowd cheers when Herman Cain, himself reputedly a man sworn to follow Jesus, denounces the unemployed, saying they are at fault.
It is violence when the mob yells “Let him die!” when Rep. Ron Paul, reputedly a physician and thus sworn to aid the sick, asks what we should do with a young man without health insurance. I think of the Roman mob giving a thumbs down condemning gladiators to death. Is this the America we want?
Praises to the National Nurses United and Physicians for a National Health Program that led a “Get Wall Street Out of Our Healthcare” march against Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield and WellCare on Oct. 26.
Our economic crisis is a direct result of our adherence to an unChristian economic theory as far to the right as Marx’s “dictatorship of the proletariat” was to the left. Both are destructive of human dignity.
The Austrian/Chicago economic academic model as taught by Mises, Hayek and Friedman and implemented among us by Reagan, Greenspan, Bush and Geithner, even Clinton and Obama, and perpetuated by gazillions of Wall Street dollars buying legislators is that we, the people, are incapable of governing, that the totally lawless and amoral free market ensures the greater good. The inevitable end result is dead coal miners, thousands dying for lack of health care and the dangerous acquisition of wealth and influence, the destruction of democracy itself, by modern day feudal lords.
Pope John Paul ll spoke of the “idolatry of the market”. The Vatican Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Oct. 24 issued “Reform of the International Financial System with a View toward a General Public Authority” expressing deep concerns about global irresponsible capitalism. Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good speaks prayerfully:
“We’re nudged by market forces…to live like a wolf among our fellow men and women… the unregulated market’s ‘invisible hands’ erode caritas and concern for others (especially concern for those Jesus called the ’least of these’) and militate against the primary purpose of our public life as citizens which is the common good of the whole community in light of salvation… … Ethics should precede economics. Persons are irreducible: they are not merely commodities, consumers or producers. Thus, a moral appreciation of the utter dignity of the person, the solidarity of the human community, and concern for others must be empowered in public life to guide and regulate the dynamism of economic markets to support the fullness of the Christian vision for the common good. The economic miseries of our time trace to our generations’s failure in this regard.
The Circleville Quakers, also known as the Religious Society of Friends, honoring a centuries long belief that God calls us to work for peace and justice for all invite everyone to a public viewing of the PBS film “Freedom Riders” at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Scioto Valley Coffeehouse, 216 W. Main St.
The Circleville Quakers believe many of the Wall Street Occupiers are called, as were the Freedom Riders, to bring injustice before our national conscience. Join us as we ask prayerfully together what we are responsible to do.