One Christian’s Letter to Occupy Wall Street Protesters #OWS
by Stan Faryna
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Background: The Stairway to Heaven on the painted church of Sucevita.
Many years ago, when I was a student at the University of Southern California, I met a man named Michael.
Michael was waiting outside a Mexican fast food restaurant.
I had gone there for a cheap bowl of soup. I was trying to stretch my modest student budget as far as I could.
As I left the restaurant, he asked me for spare change. I had a few dollars so I offered to buy Michael some tacos and a drink. He accepted.
But what Michael really wanted more than anything else was intimacy with another human person. He wanted to have a conversation. He wanted a hand shake. And he wanted a hug.
While eating the tacos I just bought for him, Michael told me that six months earlier he was a successful businessman. That he was happily married, had beautiful children, and that he had everything that he had ever wanted. Six months ago.
He was diagnosed with AIDs and he lost everything. His colleagues, family, and friends rejected him. He feel into despair, shame, hatred, and loneliness. He found himself in an unending dark night. This was back in the 80s and people didn’t know how to deal with AIDs and they were very much afraid of anyone who had it.
I listened to Michael’s story with compassion. His story was the story of the man in the song, Behind Blue Eyes. His eloquent vocabulary and clear ideas suggested to me that he was telling the truth about all the things he had lost.
More convincing, of course, was the deep agony, the hurt, and the fury behind his blue eyes.
Yes, Michael smelled strongly of sweat and urine. He had visible, grotesque infections on his face and hands. It wasn’t easy for me to take his hand or embrace him.
I shook Michael’s hand. I gave him a strong and long hug. I was afraid to do so. But I was more ashamed to be reluctant.
Michael wanted nothing more from me.
My encounter with Michael was an encounter with another human person. It was also an intimate encounter with my true self.
Occupy Wall Street is also an encounter with the world, with history, and your true self.
Like my Michael so many years ago, our world is in trouble. People are afraid. Some do not want to speak about it. Some do not want to hear about it.
You speak to trouble with great passion and courage. Keep on speaking out!
You speak for those who have not spoken, those afraid to speak, those ashamed to speak, and those who cannot speak because they struggle to put food on the table. Your voices bring comfort to a friend, a colleague, a family member, or a stranger – all of whom cannot see hope through the dark night that has befallen the world.
You search for clear and compelling answers that close the gap between the bottom line and the dignity of the human person. You inspire others to do good and make a stand against evil.
And that is not all.
You do amazing things because you are not fated to only telling lies. You reject the lie that Love must become vengeance.
Hope… may not always be obvious to you.
Right now, you may even be frustrated and confused about what’s going on or what’s going to happen to you. You may be wondering, what more should you do!
Speak loudly. Speak to truth. Speak to hope. Speak to justice, freedom, and the Dream.
Face every challenge with courage, gentleness and prudence – not anger or cynicism. And, above all, do not lie to yourself – the temptations for self-deceit are many.
Do not doubt that you do the right thing. Do not doubt that you do amazing things! You do them because you are led by your servant heart. Because you were always meant to do them.
Amazing things are written upon your servant heart just as the stars are written across the night sky. You know this – even if you have forgotten.
You will find encouragement if your heart is open to it. Again and again.
Booker T. Washington is a wonderful example. Born as a slave, he rose to become a great educator, a noted businessman, and trusted advisor to several American Presidents.
In his autobiography, Up From Slavery, Washington tells us how we can find encouragement to live brave:
Any man’s life will be filled with constant and unexpected encouragement if he makes up his mind to do his level best each day.
You, yourself, see and know this to be true right now.
Your servant heart encourages you to make profound expressions of love, conscience, and hope.
When you walk past the homeless man or woman on a busy city sidewalk – it could be Bucharest, Kyoto, Los Angeles, London, Paris, San Francisco – anywhere), you have encountered human tragedy surrounded by the wealth and pomp of well dressed people and handsome shops displaying elegant fineries in the window.
And your servant heart has asked you to resolve the irony with love.
The answer may be to bring that man (or woman) some food and drink. Or a blanket. Or a hug. It may be that you must raise your voice against corruption, injustice, and tyranny.
It may be that you must lift others up – others that must be heard.
Rarely, if ever, are there “one size fits all” answers. But the answer will come to you – if you dare to answer it from your servant heart.
Just as Occupy Wall Street has come to your heart.
This is just the beginning! Upon your lips, a world of we begins to take form. In your hearts, the kingdom of heaven unfolds like a piece of a great puzzle. Together, our hearts come together like the pieces of a great puzzle that brings the human family together.
Follow your servant heart. Let it speak. Allow yourself to feel sorrow (and joy!) as deeply as they present themselves on the stage of your heart.
Love. Serve. Give.
Limp Bizkit, Behind Blue Eyes
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31 October 2011
P.S. Help me to do something beautiful. More here.
1. Why do I blog: http://wp.me/pbg0R-kX
2. If Tomorrow Was Your Last Day: http://wp.me/pbg0R-la
3. Money Can’t Buy Happiness: http://wp.me/pbg0R-lv
4. The First Duty of Love is to Listen: http://wp.me/pbg0R-lO
5. Are You Ready for Love? http://wp.me/pbg0R-lX
6. Reading The Desiderata. http://wp.me/pbg0R-mr
7. What is Love? http://wp.me/pbg0R-mw
8. Confessions of a Freak-Geek-Misfit. http://wp.me/pbg0R-nJ
9. Do you love strongly? http://wp.me/pbg0R-nY
10. Empty-handed, Less Traveled Roads. http://wp.me/pbg0R-on
11. The Economics of Friendship. http://wp.me/pbg0R-oU
12. Do Not Be Afraid. http://wp.me/pbg0R-p9
Faryna Podcast EP12 Information
One Christian’s Letter to Occupy Wall Street Protesters by Stan Faryna
©2011 Some Rights Reserved.
Produced by Adrian Klein. http://www.adrianklein.co.uk
Music by Adrian Klein. Some Rights Reserved by Adrian Klein
Vocals: Adrian Klein