Why I'm Going to Occupy Wall Street

October 12, 2011

By Sharon Delgado

I plan to go to the Occupy Wall Street encampment on October 21st, after my post-surgery check-up with my cardiologist. I now have a pacemaker, so I'll see if it sets off the metal detector at airport security. I'll try to remember to place my borrowed cell phone to my right ear, instead of my left, so that its electromagnetic field doesn't interfere with the pacemaker. I won't be able to walk very fast or march very far. I don't yet know where I'll sleep, shower, store my computer, or type up reports to send home.
I'm not going because I need to find something to do. My life is full. I write and speak and have meaningful work. I'm surrounded by friends and family, including my beautiful grandchildren. I love my garden. Still, I plan to go. I see Occupy Wall Street as a light in the darkness of this time. 
I feel called to go to the economic center of what Walter Wink called "the domination system," the interlocking network of ideological, political, military, and economic institutions, a system that seeks to control the world and play God in peoples' lives. I am going to stand in solidarity with those who are oppressed by the current corporate-dominated Empire, and to hear stories and sing songs of hope. I plan to join my voice with those who shout out that the Emperor has no clothes, that money is not ultimate, that the invisible hand of the Market is not the hand of God. I intend to make visible my refusal to bow to this idol, this usurper, and to join with people of conscience and witness to my faith that "another world is possible."
I have been advocating for peace, justice, and the environment for more than 30 years. For the past 12 years, my work has focused on economic justice and the effects of growing corporate power on our culture, government, and global institutions. I have worked to educate people on these issues and to move people to action, including direct action. I have been a community organizer, led nonviolence trainings, and been arrested for civil disobedience many times.
My book, Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization (Fortress, 2007), is an attempt to educate people about the global economy and motivate people of faith and conscience to join the struggle for a peaceful, just, and sustainable world. This is the most important and urgent issue of our time, for if we continue to allow corporations to set the agenda and the Market to rule, we face a living hell of social, economic, and environmental ruin. The alternative is a global awakening of "we the people" to what is at stake, to our responsibilities as moral agents, and to the power we have when we join with others to work for a more compassionate world. This includes a commitment to participatory democracy and refusal to comply with corporate rule. 
The good news is that this awakening is happening now! Around the world, people are joining together in local communities, forming coalitions with others working on various issues, networking beyond regional boundaries, forming a global network, a "movement of movements," a people's globalization, a "globalization from below." 
The festivals of resistance taking place on Wall Street and other occupation sites have become visible on the world stage and have captured the imagination of those of us who have been yearning for social transformation. The whole world is watching to see what will happen next. These spontaneous outpourings springing up around the world are the most hopeful signs I've seen in a long, long time.  
There are many ways to support this movement. To find or organize a local action, go to www.occupytogether.org. You can find out more about Occupy Wall Street and support the demonstrators in New York with money, supplies, or an "occu-pie" pizza by going to http://occupywallst.org.
For me, this is a matter of faith. I seek to follow Jesus, who lived simply, healed, taught, preached good news to the poor, and lived and died in solidarity with those who were oppressed. When he overturned the tables of the moneychangers in the temple, challenging the ruling class and the economic system at its core, the authorities began plotting his death. They killed him because he and the egalitarian movement he founded posed a direct threat to the domination system of his day. But that was not the end of the story. His Spirit lives and flows through every compassionate, courageous, and truthful act of love and personal sacrifice in the struggle for a better world.

Sharon Delgado is an ordained United Methodist minister, founding director of Earth Justice Ministries, and author of Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization (Fortress Press, 2007). She lives in Nevada City, California.