A message from Riess Potterveld, President, Pacific School of Religion, on the general strike in support of Occupy Oakland

November 1, 2011
Riess Potterveld

We are mindful of the pain of injustice that is being expressed by participants in Occupy Wall Street and supportive movements, particularly in Oakland and San Francisco. We are grateful for and supportive of the national conversation that protestors have encouraged through their courageous action: a conversation about jobs and unemployment, corporate greed, and the degree to which vast wealth in the U.S. has consolidated into the hands of a small sector of the population.

Every person of faith and every institution that is part of a tradition of faith must be concerned about an economy that has become increasingly unfair, unstable, unsustainable, and a source of unhappiness and despair for a growing number of people. We should all be asking what a just and fair economy should look like.

We are also mindful of those whose work it is to keep peace and to make public spaces safe for all. We hope and pray for peaceful avenues for their work.

We will continue to do the work of theological education on Wednesday, November 2. We believe this is the work to which this school has been called, the work we can do to help create a just and sustainable world. At the same time, we are proud of the many students, friends and alumni/ae of PSR who have joined and will join on that day the interfaith clergy demonstrations in support of these movements, and who are actively engaged in resisting violence.

We affirm that non-violence is not just a tactic, but a necessary commitment for those committed to justice. It is the only route to the kind of moral and civil discourse that can awaken the best in all of us.

I echo the words of Jim Wallis, who said to those occupying Wall Street:

“I would advise you to cultivate humility more than overconfidence or self indulgence. This really is not about you. It's about the marginalized masses, the signs of the times, and the profound yearning for lasting change. Take that larger narrative more seriously than you take yourselves.”

With hope and with our prayers for justice and peace,

Riess Potterveld