I wonder if I’m the only one who feels uncomfortable with the proliferation of armed military guards in public places. I know the rhetoric that “freedom is not free” (what is it then?), but when the coffee hasn’t really kicked in yet and I walk by guys young enough to be my kids holding machine guns in the bus terminals and train stations of New York, I really don’t feel safer. Sometimes I might look like a radical. Sometimes I don’t get my hair cut as often as convention dictates I should. Sometimes I forget to trim my beard. Some days I throw on my denim jacket as I head out the door in the predawn hours. Some days no one sits next to me on the bus. Am I the enemy here? I don’t like the idea of strangers seeing me naked in airports—even if only electronically. I do like the freedom of expression, but it is no longer really free.
I suppose that’s why I’ve noticed the other peacetime occupation going on in New York: Occupy Wall Street. It is time that people say “enough!” The religious leaders with the loudest voices declare this a dangerous thing, “class warfare” they say. The wealth that lines the very upper crust, however, is simply obscene. Was a day when wealth came with a healthy dose of social responsibility. They just don’t make Andrew Carnegies any more. A few Octobers ago my family visited Sleepy Hollow, New York. The cemetery made famous by Washington Irving (who is buried there) also houses William Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. On the top of the most prominent hill is a classical style, opulent mausoleum for the Rockefellers, overlooking all others. Down at the base of the hill, hidden away in a humble, quiet corner is the modest tombstone of Andrew Carnegie. I am certain that Carnegie was no saint, but he did not let his wealth go without doing some good for his fellow citizens.
Freedom is not free, but excessive wealth is tax-free. And Jesus was a venture capitalist, I’m told. We are a nation occupied in peacetime. We are occupied by our own military and their commanding officers in the towers of Wall Street. The GOP can’t support Occupy Wall Street, for it will alienate the moneyed vote it so craves. Call it “class warfare” instead. Those uppity middle and lower class bums! When the select few human beings climb too high in their towers to see the suffering of those down below, images of Babel come to mind. Babel is code for Babylonia in the Bible—the wealthy, powerful oppressor of the poor and displaced. If wealth breeds superiority, we are all in very deep trouble; the battle is already lost. In the meanwhile, I suspect Jesus might secretly be on the side of those camped out in sleeping bags, waiting for the sign of Jonah. And it has nothing to do with being swallowed by a whale.
Or maybe it does.