A Groundswell on Wall Street

I’ve been speaking about a rising generation ready to emerge from the shadows of the last decade and enter a new era of social change.

Now we are seeing something emerge — a grassroots campaign has caught fire, turning out thousands of people, young and old, to create a free democratic space called Liberty Square on Wall Street.

All kinds of people are protesting that Wall Street has been rescued but there has been no help for most Americans. And city after city is joining them. Their statement:

“We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we are working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.”

This is what a groundswell looks like.  This is a moment that could spark a broader movement that reaffirms the human dignity of all people. In a time when the top 1 percent have as much income as the bottom 60 percent — a level of inequality not seen since before the Great Depression — it’s a matter of moral imperative to help fix a broken system.

Tomorrow is a major Day of Action — where thousands of people will march for reform in NYC and all over the country. Will you come with us and help decide how people of faith and moral values should weigh in?  Here’s how you can join us:

1. In NYC, folks are gathering at 4:30pm on Wednesday east of the Foley Square Fountain (corner of Pearl St. & Center St.). Many local faith leaders from throughout NYC will be present, including some Auburn Seminary clergy. They will gather at 4:15pm at the location above.

2. Not in NYC? There may be a local solidarity march near you. Find out by clicking here:
www.occupytogether.org or www.dailykos.com

3. Want to help out? “Crowdsource” getting these events online and catalogued here:
Daily Kos

4. Can’t be in New York City tomorrow and can’t make another event? Send us your picture.  Just reply to this email with your photo, and we’ll find a way to get you there virtually.

5. This Friday at noon, join a meeting of faith leaders to plan next steps at Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Square Park in New York City).

6. Go to Groundswell’s Facebook page and tell us what you think about the protests and how Groundswell should be involved.

I’m inspired by this morning’s editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times about the protesters:

“The discipline of their demonstrations, the clarity of their moral voice, has touched a chord.  Occupy Wall Street is in that tradition of nonviolence with a moral voice organizing to challenge entrenched power and privilege, a movement that stands with the majority against a powerful elite.”

But let’s be clear — this isn’t about bad people, it’s about a broken system that isn’t working to encourage opportunity for all Americans and rewarding hard work with decent pay.

Last month, we marked the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 as the end of one chapter of history, and the beginning of a new one — yet to be written. At our teach-in, I shared with you a vision of what a groundswell feels like. “A groundswell is a broad swell in the sea, due to a distant storm or gale. It’s a response to something. A groundswell is not self-generated but comes out of the zeitgeist.”

We did not know what would come next or how it would happen — we only knew that we were hungry for a movement that wasn’t about a political party or a single issue, but a shared moral vision for a better world. Let’s take the first steps together tomorrow and see what we think.