I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Time Magazine’s 2011 Person of the Year is “The Protester.” “Everywhere this year, people have complained about the failure of traditional leadership and the fecklessness of institutions. Politicians cannot look beyond the next election, and they refuse to make hard choices. That’s one reason we did not select an individual this year. But leadership has come from the bottom of the pyramid, not the top.
[The following is a guest post from Courtney Weber and Mary Caliendo. Mary Caliendo and Courtney Weber are Wiccan Priestesses living in New York City, who chaplain the Occupy Wall Street movement through the Support and Medic Working Groups. Mary can be reached at email@example.com and Courtney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Courtney is also a contributor to the Pagan Newswire Collective’s new blog documenting Pagan and Heathen involvement in the Occupy movement. I hope you’ll join her, and the other contributors, there.]
We are Wiccan Priestesses who have been Chaplaining at Occupy Wall Street. Courtney’s story:
I became personally engaged with the movement from day one—when one of my Coveners could not attend our September 17th Mabon because he was going downtown to camp in a park that I’d never heard of with “a bunch of other people” to “show Wall Street that we’d had enough.” I didn’t understand what he was doing, but as I am supportive of peaceful action toward change, I applauded his efforts, but didn’t see myself getting any further involved than offering him use of my shower.
What I love about having conversations with vibrant, intelligent, people is that you often find yourself verbalizing your beliefs in a distilled and succinct manner that may never have occurred in solitude. In this case, I was having lunch with a retired Lutheran minister, a member of my wife’s family, and our conversation turned to social justice and the Occupy movement. Specifically, we were talking about “Occupy faith” initiatives that have been springing up to support the movement, and what the role of faith communities should be regarding outcry over economic injustice. I posited that this moment in history provided a rare opportunity for the dwindling mainline Protestant congregations, and for progressive Catholics, to provide the infrastructure, support, and moral guidance they did during the height of the civil rights era, before a confluence of political and social shifts resulted in a profound shift in our collective priorities and goals. After all, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s final campaign before being assassinated was the Poor People’s Campaign (and enshrining economic justice in our constitution has been around at least since Roosevelt).
Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note series, more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So lets get started! Peter Dybing at Occupy Fort Lauderdale: Pagan activist, leader, and first responder Peter Dybing was with Occupy Fort Lauderdale in Florida on Wednesday, giving training in non-violent resistance as those gathered prepared for a forced eviction.
Peter Dybing and Officers of Avalon have responded to police violence in the Occupy Movement:
Over the past several days the membership of Officers of Avalon has become highly concerned with both the images of police actions at Occupy sites and the discussion within the Pagan community about these events. This leaves the organization in the precarious situation of having to find a way to support freedom of expression, arguably a Pagan value, and also support our fellow officers. For most of the last two months police and the Occupy movement has coexisted in a mostly peaceable atmosphere. Over the last week political leaders across the country made decisions to confront the protesters by directing police departments to enforce curfew, sanitation and nuisance laws. This has resulted in confrontations where a few officers have crossed the line and used unreasonable force.