“New Haven ‘proposes’ Occupiers leave city Green”
So reads the headline of this mornings New Haven Register. So I thought I best go there and see what’s going on for myself. I’d also traveled to New York’s Zuccotti Park last October and you can read my report here.
As at Zuccotti, I wore my Vietnam Veteran hat (but not my American flag shirt). I took my camera and a handful of gospel tracks I hoped to pass out (and did), caught the city bus and off I went.
I had walked by Occupy New Haven a number of times before, but had never seemed to catch anyone at home. This time there was a small circle of people in the midst of the camp so I decided to join them. They were having a meeting (the circle) dealing with some sort of sexual impropriety on the part of some male member and the discussion centered on what to do with him. They discussed banishment before settling on a chaperone scheme where another male would chaperone the accused while within the camp. The accused was brought into the meeting and agreed to the arrangement/punishment. All in all a well run meeting with respect shown to all participants.
In going to these events I try to be civil. And I try to single out young people in particular in an attempt to steer them away from some of the destructive potential of such movements. In this case I met young 18 year old Daniel, an Irish lad by way of Uganda; a Yale freshman majoring in computer science. After the circle meeting Daniel and I sat together for about an hour and had a delightful exchange. I shared with him a bit of my career as a software developer and also my Christian testimony, and why I go to Occupy events and openly express my support for the American Business community and yes, Wall Street. Not a popular stance in such settings, but it’s what I believe in my heart.
I listened intently as Daniel also shared a bit of his life with me. A five year old when his family moved to Uganda he watched as his father tried to grow a faith based organization, and then later tried to convert it to a commercial enterprise. He told of how a “friend” of his father worked to destroy the company and apparently succeeded. Daniel told me of how his father somehow became much more peaceful and patient during this great trial and I asked if this could be attributed to his fathers faith. Daniel said “he thinks so …”.
I didn’t catch all of the details, but Daniel said something about his parents buying or working a farm in the new country of South Sudan. He asked me to put this endeavor on my prayer list. Actually, Sudan has been heavy on my mind recently since I watched this video about what’s happening to the people of the new South Sudan. It makes me want to go there and help, and perhaps I will even though I’ve just turned 68.
I then asked “how is it that a young Irish fellow living in Uganda, one of the poorest nations on earth, with his father out of work winds up at Yale?” He told of his mother’s (a school teacher) work in finding educational opportunities in the UK and the US and he wound up here at Yale and was very grateful for the support he is receiving from Yale. An amazing story, and to me another example of the greatness of America and the opportunities it still provides.
I mingled with people from different backgrounds today; some young and idealistic students, some older fellows who looked as if they’ve had a tough slug of it, and some who just wanted to hang out and be part of the crowd. I don’t support Occupy goals of destroying capitalism, but I also won’t judge the individuals as long as they respect the American ideals of individual liberty and the opportunity that American free enterprise can provide.
Don Johnson – March 2012