A few hours ago two people from OCAP were arrested for their part in a public protest in a public space that was an effort to affect public policy. Had they broken windows? Thrown Molotov cocktails? No (although their charges won’t reflect this)…they had raised their voices and spoke as a part of a group rather than waiting in line for their proper and polite turn.
OCAP’s real crime is that they bring into the political process people that would otherwise be marginalized. To some extent this makes OCAP a conservative movement. They trust that those with political and economic power will respond to those who are rarely heard if these people come together and engage directly with the political process.
The demands of OCAP are actually fairly limited—access to affordable housing, adequate social benefits for those without jobs and fair treatment for those with jobs, a welcome hand to be offered to the newcomers to our land…hardly radical at all. Similar visions have been heard in sermons from many faiths and in the election campaigns of politicians across the spectrum.
What makes OCAP dangerous is that the people that come together under its banner truly care about the world and one another. They want the highest ideals of the western world to be lived out so that people aren’t hungry, aren’t afraid, aren’t alone. People from OCAP will help find a crib for a young mother one afternoon and confront a growing tendency towards institutionalized selfishness the next morning.
If there is a sign of hope in politically dark times it is within groups like OCAP. They may not be the core of a political machine but they are remind us and pressure us to never forget those right wing forces want us to turn away from—those on the heating grates and in the shelters and in the soup kitchens and on the picket lines and in immigration holds and other places that continue the spirit of Victorian workhouses in the 21st century.