There is something highly symbolic about protesting in front of an institution that has as its central aim to spread Christ’s message of love throughout the world. Jesus was particularly concerned with the poor, the dispossessed, the outcasts and the marginalised in society. Such poor, dispossessed, outcast and marginalised are represented and given a voice today by Occupy LSX.
According to the gospels, Jesus threw the money-changers out of the temple, his only act of violence. He would not be comfortable with the excessive consumerist society that we live in today, and the fact that the 1% live excessively lavish lifestyles whilst many millions suffer in poverty. He would not be happy that corporations wield such influence over people’s lives and have become a devasting force against people and planet.
All this suggests that Jesus would be camped with Occupy London Stock Exchange, if he were around today.
The presence of the activists has deeply divided the Cathedral. Occupy LSX was deeply moved at the resignation of Canon Chancellor Rev Dr Giles Fraser, who would not stand by the Cathedral’s decision to pursue legal action that may authorise violence against the activists. He is not the only one, Fraser Dyer, a chaplain at St Paul’s, also listened to his conscience and decided to resign, being ‘embarrassed’ at the decision taken by the Dean and Chapter.
Jesus spoke up for the oppressed in society
I want to turn back to the theme of speaking up for the oppressed because it’s highly relevant from a wild law perspective. Human beings co-evolved with millions of other species. These other species are our kith and kin in a hard scientific sense, as well as in the poet’s sense (“the poetry of the Earth is never dead,” wrote Keats. Keats, like many others throughout history, recognised that Nature has soul).
In short, Nature has no voice in our society, so we must speak up for Nature. The trees, the rivers, the animals – they have rights too. They are stakeholders in this beautiful new democracry emerging.
We urgently need to reconnect with Nature. This Earth provides everything that we need to live well and is the source of our nourishment. We need a new governance system which acknowledges the inherent value of all life and promotes, as the overriding objective, the flourishing of life on Earth. To be clear: life flourishing comes before the economy. We need to move away from a narrative that places the economy above everything else.
A good starting point for this new governance is the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, which is being advocated at international level by Bolivia. Bolivia needs our help in this, so please sign the petition to get this groundbreaking legal text adopted at the Earth Summit next year.
The Declaration sets out a blueprint for a new social model, premised on co-operation with and respect for nature. Many thousands of people all over the world look to Nature as the source of inspiration.
“teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother”
Keep up the good work Occupy LSX, and remember you represent all life, not just the poor and oppressed humankind who have no voice, but the oppressed non human species who are also part of the Earth Community.
Family fun day at Occupy LSX on Saturday 29 October – head over to the tent university and learn about the new democracy. This university doesn’t cost £9000!
Boris Johnson Mayor of London has reportedly called for new laws to stop protests like this one. Such a move should be resisted, it is deeply undemocratic and a breach of our fundamental right.
The Cathdral’s decision to take legal action against protestors was announced yesterday (Friday 28 Oct). The City of London Corporation had announced that it was also seeking legal action on the same day.
Law firm Winckworth Sherwood is acting for St Paul’s, and whilst Bindmans represents Occupy LSX, with advice from John Cooper QC. Bindmans and John Cooper are acting pro bono.
In a Guardian poll, 88.2% of people supported the protest.