Monday, October 31, 2011

Witness to the Occupation

I’ve pondered deeply, as you no doubt have, what the Occupy movement is all about.

I’ve conclude that, at its root, it is a witnessing — witnessing for justice and a just society.

“To bear witness” is a spiritual term, and this movement is certainly that. It is driven by a spirit of outrage, of non-violence, of consensus, of fairness, of peace, of equality, of community and of justice....the list goes on and on.

To bear witness is also a legal term. Unrefutable, unbiased, untainted witnessing is the basis of justice in our courts. The Occupy movement here in Portland is encamped next to the County and Federal Courthouses. But the bearing of judicial witness is not for those courts alone.

The witnesses here have brought themselves before the court of public opinion, whose verdict, one hopes, will be cast at the polls.

So far, surveys tell us, the public sides with this committed eclectic community of witnesses. Their testimonies are beyond credible. They need only point to the homeless and bereft who have joined them. They too — the veterans, the mentally ill, the bankrupt, the homeless — are witnesses to the injustices of our society.

They also point to the greed of the one percent.

What society dare arrest and detain its honest, non-violent witnesses? That’s the question posed to those who hold public office. Here in Portland, so far, our public servants recognize the righteousness and truth of this cause.

They recognize the need of the public, to whom they answer, to fully hear the testimony and fairly weight it.

In places like Oakland, public officials will pay the price of stifling the sworn and overt truth of this movement.

To those who have not become involved but who have seen this movement and heard its message, realize that you too are now witnesses. How long will it be before you volunteer to take take the stand, to swear to tell the truth — to testify.

Remaining silent in these troubled times is not an option.

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