Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Occupiers and Quakers

The Occupy movement is in nearly 1000 cities around the world, including Sheffield (https://occupysheffield.org/), outside the cathedral.

Occupy is a "leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. This movement empowers real people to create real change from the bottom up. We want to see a general assembly in every backyard, on every street corner because we don't need Wall Street and we don't need politicians to build a better society." (Occupy Wall Street statement)

In the 17th century, England was in turmoil as a bloody civil war tore the nation apart. Many people lost faith in the government of the time, and in the church, in those days a central pillar of society. No longer knowing what to do or who to trust, many groups of people started looking for new ways of living together – ranters, diggers, levellers, and others. Some groups simply waited in silence for inspiration as to what to do. These groups, known as Seekers, formed a loose network across the country, and one such group met around Doncaster - then much bigger than Sheffield.

It is from such groups that Quakers sprang in the 1640s and 50s. George Fox realised "that being bred at Oxford or Cambridge was not enough to fit and qualify men to be ministers".
The Occupy movement is telling us that being educated at Eton or the Chicago Business School does not make you fit to run the world.

The Occupy movement has no leaders and practices consensual decision making (http://occupywallst.org/article/enacting-the-impossible/)

Quakers also have no 'leaders' and have been practising consensual decision making for over 350 years.

As I write this, Occupy Wall Street is being violently evicted in the middle of the night by heavily armed police.

In the 1660's Quakers meetings were often violently broken up and Quakers thrown in prison.

Occupy is our sort of movement – or are we now too comfortable and complacent enjoying the material luxuries of the status quo?

1 comment:

Craig Barnett said...

Hi Gordon,
Thanks for this post - exciting times, unfortunately not much sign of any revolutionary movements here in Zimbabwe at the moment. There's an interesting round-up of Quaker involvement in the Occupy movement at: http://www.nayler.org/?p=457
with Sheffield Quakers headlining...
In Friendship, Craig