Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupy Wall Street 3x Per Day: Go Locarian

Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.
Wendell Berry

Listen! The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
James 5:4

Thousands of victims of the unjust economy are camping in cities all over the nation. Princeton professor Cornel West recently characterized the groundswell of protests as a place where "people are straightening their backs up." The signs and chants of "We are the 99%" seek to unveil the dehumanizing practices of both corporations that have placed profits over people (or better yet, shareholders & executives over workers, consumers & the environment) and the political leaders who have been listening to lobbyists and lawyers, leaving the "least of these" out in the cold.

Many of us who pledge allegiance to the Prophet of justice--who was murdered after overturning the tables of those making unjust profits (Mark 11:15-19)--are deeply resonating with the spiritual consciousness of Occupy Wall Street. We see it as our Christian vocation to be in solidarity with those who have been oppressed and stripped of dignity by the "principalities and powers" (Colossians 2:11,15) of the world. Many of us want to join the new culture fermenting in New York City and the scores of other city occupations all over the nation and many of us are doing just that. But we must also be challenged to allow these protests to spill over from the event itself into the rhythm of our everyday lives. This kind of holistic occupation against corporate greed & injustice can be fueled by a "locarian" diet: vegetables grown and harvested locally.

In the past few decades, corporate farms, driven by intense pressure from investors and shareholders to increase profits, have accelerated the production of animal products and farm commodities through government subsidies and low-wage/high-risk labor, leading to horrendous conditions for workers & animals, human disease and ecological poisoning. These external costs are masked by the artificially low prices they produce at the fast food restaurants and corporate supermarkets where so many Americans shop.

Unfortunately, our elected leaders lack the courage and resources to enact legislation that will protect all of us from these corporate maneuvers. That's where we come in. With our electoral system in crisis mode, only a massive boycott of these products will transform conditions for workers, animals and the earth. Instead of corporate meals cheapened on the backs of overworked and underpaid labor, we can devote the bulk of our diets to healthy produce grown on local, independent farms. Shopping at farmers' markets creates jobs, reduces emissions, supports our non-subsidized neighbors and tunes us into the Source of production: God, the earth and the precious workers.

A commitment to a mostly plant diet produced locally (locarian!) cultivates in us an empathy that places some of the most vulnerable citizens of the earth (including the earth itself) ahead of our own destructive impulses towards comfort, convenience and cheap consumption. It instills in us a creativity, planning and preparing meals that energize us towards more acts of peace and justice. And, ultimately, it puts our money where our deepest convictions reside: every dollar spent is a vote cast for the farmer who takes her vocation of caring for all of God's Creation seriously.

For some, a locarian shift will be dramatic and rigid, but for most, it will a slower evolution away from factory farms and animal products. Even when our eating is characterized as flexitarian or vegan before dinnertime--as opposed to a rigid vegetarianism or veganism--we still make our sacred mark on the corporate landscape. Like all spiritual practices (prayer, fasting, charitable giving, Scripture reading, etc), the more we participate the more we are healed and transformed...and the world with it.

*Check out the Better World Shopper for a quick-and-easy guide to businesses that place human rights, animal protection, the environment, community involvement and social justice ahead of the almighty dollar.


  1. Thanks for the thoughts about being a locarian.

    When I looked up your reference to Mark 11:15-19 this is what I found:

    "Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, ‘Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”? But you have made it a den of robbers.’ And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city."

    Where are the "unjust profits" you are talking about? Was the Prophet of justice overturning tables because the sellers were ripping off the buyers? Is that why he likens the temple to a den of robbers?

  2. This is definitely an off-topic comment, but something that has struck me over the days and exemplified in this post. This notion that companies are only driven by profits and share-holders. If this is true, what would be the harm of doing something like privatizing social security. If profits are so easy to be made in the market, why are we reluctant to empower people to invest 15% of their money so that they can enjoy the same returns that these greedy share-holders are getting. Why can't we all just be greedy share-holders? Even more, as shareholders couldn't we be more effective with our resources in changing companies than protesting in the streets (i.e. invest in companies we deem responsible?).

  3. Jon James,

    Have you heard back at all about the questions you raised in your comments?

    E@sy Yo1k, for all the talk about "conversation partners" you two (BD and TAP) don't seem to be conversing much in the comments. Is there another forum for discussing ideas with you?