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Little Talks- two versions

I can’t decide which I like better:


Dang, now I want to go to Iceland.

Happy Occupy Jerusalem Temple

2000 years ago, a poor Mediterranean Jewish peasant lead an unpermitted march through Jerusalem and followed it up with a rally at the Temple.  Some words were said about the priests collaborating with the imperial government and currency exchange tables were upended in an act of civil disobedience.  There was a general assembly with a people’s microphone, because back then, even if you could pay for the permit for voice amplification, um, there wasn’t any voice amplification.  The peasant said that the temple had become a place where widows and women were getting ripped off and he demanded justice. Then he and his other occupiers wouldn’t let any more commerce get conducted that day.  Maybe they linked armed and chanted, “We are the 99%”.  I’m guessing the whole incident was fairly popular.  After all, it was a busy day with lots of tourists visiting the city, tourists that probably got fleeced by those same money changers and their damn fees. Have you seen what they charge for converting dollars to euros these days?  Outrageous. There’s just no upper boundary on all of the fees, is there?  Money people get whatever they want.

Anyway, after the rally, the peasant and his buddies had some dinner and then decided to occupy a garden for the night.  It was a public garden and nobody brought tents.  They were all giddy about what a great event that was, but at the same time scared silly.  Sure enough, in the middle of the night, the head priest sent his droogs around to arrest the peasant.  When the guards arrived, the peasant told his fellow occupiers to be completely non-violent.  But one of them got a little hasty and before you knew it, one of the guards had lost an ear.  But the peasant told them to stop fighting and went with the guards peacefully.  Now, see, this is one of the parts of the story where I think the accounts were made up.  If there really had been bloodshed, the guards would have arrested everyone and thrown them in the back of some wagon with the 1st century equivalent of zip-ties.  But the fact that they only arrested the ringleader suggests that there wasn’t any violence and that the rest of his friends scattered.

The peasant was arraigned in front of the temple court and asked what the f^&* he thought he was doing and did he have any idea how much money the temple lost today?  But the dude was unflappable.  So, they handed him over to the authorities and told the governor that the guy was disturbing the peace and inconveniencing everyone.  The last thing the governor wanted was to be inconvenienced.  Plus, there was a whole city full of peasants from out of town and if they all got together and compared notes, and if that “99%” meme spread, he’d have a real riot on his hands.  There were a lot of peasants and not enough time to call in another legion of riot police.  So, the governor decided to make an example of the peasant and had him crucified.  That’ll learn’em.

The peasant’s friends went into hiding but when they heard what had happened, they were stunned.  A few days after the peasant died, a couple of them said they couldn’t find his body and that he might not be dead after all.  After that, several of them had post traumatic hallucinations about seeing him.  You know how it is, someone close to you dies and for a couple of weeks, you could *swear* you saw him going into a building or buying fruit from a street vendor or maybe you had some elaborate dream when the deceased gives you instructions or tells you not to worry.  The peasant’s message and person were so powerful that they left a deep impression on his friends.  They decided to carry on without him and spread his message of justice, equality, compassion, kindness, and non-violence.

Of course factionalism developed over time and the stories about the peasant got embellished and he started to sound like a lot of other apocalyptic magicians who rose from the dead.  But if that was all he was about, his legacy would have died out rather quickly.  Apocalyptic magicians who resurrected themselves were a dime a dozen in the 1st century.  More likely, his message of human dignity and inclusiveness for everyone was really powerful.  It was the ancient world’s version of “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.  That was revolutionary.  No one ever spread a message of self-worth and resistance and community action before. Before you knew it, there was an Occupy Galatia, Occupy Corinth, Occupy Thessolonica, Occupy Ephesus, Occupy Rome.  The Roman road made it so much easier for the message to spread.  And so it did.

A few centuries later, the peasant won and the Romans decided they’d rather switch than fight.  Of course, the message got co-opted and the resurrectionists won out.


Nevertheless, the peasant’s method and message was repeated in a purer form by other revolutionaries throughout the centuries.  Francis of Assisi was one.  Gandhi and Martin Luther King were two others.  Aung San Suu Kyi is doing it as we speak.  It turns out that with patience and persistence, the method is pretty effective.

Now, there are some people who don’t believe that the peasant really existed and that the historical record is pretty thin.  But one of the later followers wrote a lot of letters and some of his interactions were with the peasant’s followers and brother.  So, there’s that.  But more than that, his revolutionary thoughts were so powerful and he is mentioned so frequently by his friends in those letters that it’s hard to believe he was just a figment of the imagination.  The execution left an impression on them of how brutally oppressive the authorities were and how unfair the whole system was on the 99%.  They vowed to do something about that.

2000 years later, the message still resonates.  And there are new groups following his lead, getting together, occupying parks and malls.  They’re speaking out about how the temples are corrupted and in collusion with the authorities and they are throwing off the old religious authorities that are denying human dignity to everyone and appealing to reason.  They are being civilly disobedient and getting their asses hauled off to jail for calling attention to the 99%.

The people are rising,

They are rising indeed.