Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Occupy Movement: A Religious Read

This article was written by rabbi Daniel Zemel:

In some ways, at the heart of the Occupy movement is the perceived and real breakdown of what we might call our national civic covenant — a nice biblical term. The terms, meaning and aspirations of this covenant can be found in such foundational texts as the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Gettysburg Address.

[...]The very notion of a national civic covenant can be traced to a biblical teaching that subtly informs so much of what is at the heart contemporary democracy.  Deuteronomy, after all, teaches that everyone was gathered to be a partner in the covenant of Sinai — men and women, young and old.  Everyone from “wood chopper to water drawer to the stranger in your gates,” was a covenanted partner in the Sinaitic dream of a new vision for what it means to be a human being:  Each one of us carries a reflection of God’s holiness; each one of us is made in God’s image.

Today, too many in America see too vast a gap between the elites and the people.  This doesn’t challenge the notion that there will always be a 1 percent: It is the steepness of the angle between the 1 percent and the rest that is being questioned.  Does the national civic covenant still hold when so little is shared between those at the top and those at the bottom?  What sort of covenant is it when it allows us to have so little in common?

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