I have been feeling purple blue ever since the Occupiers went on their rampage through downtown resulting in the arrest of 400 and the "banishment" of a dozen. I was as disappointed by the arrests as by the violence; both actions resulted in expenditure of tax payer dollars that might have been better spent creating housing for the homeless, subsidies for public education, or any number of public works such as filling potholes, cleaning trash from parks, etc etc etc. In these still hard days of budget cuts, we don't need the expenses incurred by violence and mayhem, and we don't need more people behind bars. The United States is, as the ACLU correctly states, a nation behind bars. We have 5% of the world's population and 25% of its prisoners. If we are going to find across the murky swamp of violence that has become commonplace in our cities, we need bridges, ways to communicate that work.
Emeryville, wall sculpture, unidentified artist
I don't purport to have any concise precise answers; I know there is no magic wand to wave, but I also know that if we want generous loving lives in a compassionate world, we need to revise old tired systems, abandon violence and war, long favored and applauded by the hierarchies of power, including most political systems and organized religion.
We're not going to save the world by maiming and killing one another. I know what you're thinking -- oh, goodness, how naive! Tell that to the politicians. Tell that to the corporate raiders. Tell that to every sneering mean-spirited pompous self-righteous man or woman who has blamed the poor for their poverty, the sick for their illness, the ignorant for their ignorance, the grieving for their sorrow.
Okay, do that.
Tell them, quietly and firmly, without shouting. Forgive student loans. Regulate financial systems and insurance companies. Adequately fund public education. Reduce the cost of health care and make it available to all. Help our world to bloom.
Elsewhere ice is still holding back the green, but here it is spring. Perhaps it's a spring too early, but it's spring, the season when imaginations run to dreams of peaceful days and visions of verdant summer gardens alive with fruit and flowers. True, this year rainstorms have gone missing, and that's a worry. There are more and more people crowded up against the coast, more and more water consumed daily, and the skies are brilliant blue even in the earliest morning hours. No rain, but in all that blue, can't we find a rock near a hidden spring perhaps where we might anchor a human bridge that might take us hand over hand from old to new, here to there?
Or are we going to once again leave it up to God and/or Government?
Emeryville, February 2
I've always thought of God as nothing more than the space between, that which both holds us apart from one another and simultaneously provides connection, a borderless place where we store all our knowledge, all our love. The only God I know is love. I never could imagine 'a' God, slipped inside a body, perched upon a throne, soberly surveying the troubled paradise below. Thinking of God as that vibrant space between, human life can perhaps be imagined as the Bridge between. We are the builders of the Bridge. We get to decide which stones we'll use, how much concrete we pour, how high our Bridge will soar, how far its reach. We can choose to eschew those flimsily manufactured pillars of violence and cruelty, choose instead to build the every day with sturdier stock, using only the willowy branches of love and hope lashed together with kindness and generosity. As for Government. . . well that would be us, wouldn't it? We the people, remaining flexible and fluid, retaining the dream.
Spring is a hopeful dreamy season, a kind Bridge built of earth spirits and sky shadows, one that allows us to slip from darkness into light. Nothing is yet ripe (except the citrus fruits, lemons everywhere) and anything rotten is being greedily consumed by the new growth of old plants. Bursting in bloom, flowering cherries and plums are redrawing horizons, coaxing winter skies to the earth below where those flowers that are the true markers of a Northern California spring -- poppies and oxalis -- are opening to the sun as exuberant and as brilliant as they are short-lived.
Berkeley Marina, February 1
Life is short. Live lovingly. Do no harm. Practice random acts of Kindness. Be generous. Make art.
Regular readers of this blog -- you know who you are! ;-0 -- may be wondering why I am no longer writing high praise of 'Occupy:Oakland'. Well, the answer to that question is easy enough. I am a pacifist and do not support violent wholesale destruction. I never have and never will, and in recent days, rather than focusing their energies on determining positive means of discussion and mediation to address the difficult societal problems we all face, the Occupy movement in Oakland has been instead a bit too focused on violence and the destruction of community property, i.e property purchased and maintained by the tax dollars offered by 99%, which includes me and probably you, too, dear readers. Too much bullying going on.
On Saturday night, when several Occupy folk crow-barred open the front doors to City Hall, walls inside Oakland's City Hall were scrawled with graffiti, glass doors broken, electric wires cut, property removed. The scale model of the building -- the original architect's model over 100 years old -- was overturned and broken. Several even more fragile yet wildly imaginative sculptures in a children's art exhibit outside the Mayor's office were damaged, some seriously so. This exhibit featured art made of recycled materials and included a small sculpture dedicated to Occupy, yet nonetheless several pieces were over-turned and broken. At least one was destroyed. My personal favorite, the mermaid, her tail a mass of glistening DVD scales, now lists far to the left. Arms akimbo, she's hanging on.
Rather than thrashing about, smashing this, crashing that, the Occupiers might have benefited from stopping at the top of the stairs, standing still if only for a moment. They might have looked quietly at the art made by Oakland's kids, soaked themselves in the imagined worlds and dreams these kids had created from trash and then stood back (or stood near) and allowed themselves to occupy their minds, dream of new ways to solve old problems. Picked up their own trash and moved on.
Of course, capitalism may be correctly described as War on the People. We know that, but we also know that rarely is war ended with more war. Certainly we all see by now that violence does not subside when met with greater violence. Violence begets violence. At the risk of sounding pedantic and overly trite, I will state the obvious again. Creativity builds worlds. Destructive violence only destroys, kills, maims, leaving behind very little with which to build anew. Anyone who has wandered out of a war zone knows that.
I'm not an advocate of war, and I wonder about a group that seeks to wage war on themselves. Why do such harm to themselves and to others? I find it ironic -- and more than little sad -- that a protester charged with committing mayhem carries the name Ahimsa.
Ahimsa -- the awareness that all life is sacred and that we who walk this earth should do no harm to others or to ourselves. Gandhi showed us that If we can change ourselves, the tendencies in the world will also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him . . . So if we live every day in peace and with peace and by peace, perhaps we will have peace. If we do no harm, we can perhaps reconstruct our world as a world without violence.
Satyagraha. Nonviolence. Ahimsa. Do no harm. Walk in beauty. Walk in light.
Behind the fog, inside the smoke, is the light of peace, the grace of life.
Huck Finn, please write. A new encampment has set sail on Lake Merritt.
Some very inventive Occupiers have used discarded plastic barrels as the necessary floats for a quite spacious and gracious raft that has been further decked out with a roof and mosquito net curtains.
Occupy: Oakland has morphed into Aqua-py the heart waters of the mind.
I must say when I first saw this raft, I smiled and imagined how peaceful it must be to be out there on the water, just floating about, watching the ducks dive and dip.
I love the courageous simplicity of this raft, its freedom, how it rests so easily against the soaring wings of the Cathedral of Light. If the Cathedral is meant to provide access to the skies above, this home-made raft allows us to remain firmly attached to the world of fishes and wishes, the streaming of dreams. Yesterday, when I first saw the raft, I yearned to return after dark, see if it would be flickering with lanterns. I was unable to, but today I came back and found to my delight that the raft was spawning. Tiny little floating tents were setting sail off its prow. One had floated nearly across the lake.
Like thoughts released, these tiny baby tents will follow the tides. I'm sure they will bump against some far shore, and someone will find them. . . just as one who walks the shores of human culture finds bits and pieces of thoughts and dreams washed up by waves of dreaming, storms of disagreements, seas of disappointment. Set sail, set sail, and aqua-pie.
How very delicious.
Thanksgiving has come and gone, as have days of rain, which fortunately coincided with those times when we were all inside feasting, dreaming, and thinking. At first, I was so busy cooking and scribbling lists of all that makes me thankful (electricity and hot water are high on that list but below friends and family) that I never noticed that the rain would keep me from walking for hours in the park. Then, we were all so busy tasting and enjoying slow roasted turkey, baked yams, and four kinds of pie, I found couldn't walk after all. I just had to lie back and breathe, digest my food and my happiness.
This morning with my house empty once again and the day dripping with fog, I returned at last to the park. Even before setting foot on the path, I came upon these overnight mushroom blooms in the small strip of green just off the parking lot. I have no idea what kind of mushrooms they are, and if you do, write me. They might be edible Honey mushrooms, Armillaria spp., but they might also be Pholiota mutabilis, looking like a honey mushroom but with a rather nasty taste. Then again, they might be overgrown and very large Flammulina velutipes or Collybia or some form of Gymnopilus.
The point is, I guess, I don't really know, and as I have already walked with Death after an experience with wild mushrooms, I didn't pick them. I just stopped and admired the sudden beauty of this exuberant display.
To pinch even one mushroom from the cluster seemed wrong. To see the cluster as yet untouched and untroubled seemed a gift, Such unexpected beauty is rare. Already nearby were clusters that had been trampled and kicked.
Below is a close up of the larger, and I think, older cluster. These mushrooms are sprouting on soil resulting from the breakdown of years of redwood chips, layered lovingly beneath the grasses and the shrubs. I suppose the chips suppress the weeds but feed the mushroom spores.
I looked for fairies, but saw none.
If these mushrooms were too congested, too fast-growing to provide shelter for green-winged fairies intent on magical transformation, the recent rain encouraged other more robust communities of mushrooms that grew as large and as fast but did provide shelter -- not for the winged forest folk but for more determined city folk intent on creating change, not with magical spells or herbal concoctions but with sober words, carefully painted in large letters on canvas facing Martin Luther King, Jr Way at the Occupy site in Berkeley.
Defend Public Education. No Student Fee Increases. Disclose the Budget. No Layoffs. No Furloughs. Democratize the Regents. No Paycuts for Salaries less than 40, 000.
Words that make a great deal of sense and are as specific and as fertile as any mushroom spore can be.
Berkeley Occupy, MLK Way
November is closing. Thanksgiving is upon us. Helicopters are hovering still.
Artist Ezra Li Eismont reminds us that the one landscape we can safely and truly occupy is our mind. Why just set up tents in abandoned lots when you can instead erect the mental architecture capable of supporting all that is needed for a more egalitarian society. . .
Think responsibly. Act compassionately.
Ezra Li Eismont, Polk St, San Francisco
Move out of Zombie Nation.
Discover the conversation.
Wall Space, Hemlock St, San Francisco
I am grateful for those who make art in public spaces.
Yesterday, Occupy: Oakland was cleared away. Today, high above the street camped in a tree, one person Zachary Running Wolf, remains . . .
But what else remains floating around the plaza, the city, the nation? All the difficulties, all the unfairness, the inequities, the misery.
Do something, Washington D.C.
Start by revising the tax code so that richest 1% and the corporations pay their fair share, forgive student loans, fund public education, ensure health care for all. Stop pandering to corporations and the insurance industry. Regulate the insurance industry. Cap corporate salaries. Start thinking sanely and compassionately about the health, education, and welfare of all Americans.
Zachary Running Wolf, once a candidate for the mayor of Berkeley, up a tree
Two Ends of One Day
In pre-dawn hours, in creased blue light, lodgers
at the Occupy: Oakland site are swept away,
the tents removed. Police wearing gloves
collect supplies, now classed as trash, toss
it all in garbage trucks. Midday, my dog
eyes red squirrels chittering in cork trees.
I keep my eyes focused on the farthest shore,
my heart on sea birds atop the air, wanting
to erase the pain lodged inside of knowing.
When home again, I try for hours to tape
together a book that opens with a raid
of a homeless encampment beneath a bridge,
the shooting death of a giant iguana chained
to a cinderblock under a tree, unable to run away.
My dog chewed the book while I was out.
I hadn’t finished reading. I can rescue most of it
but twenty pages – no doubt the hinge that swings
the story out and in – are gone, digested
I’m sure. If I continue reading, I will be guessing,
walking around that gaping hole. I put aside
the tape and go outside to the slant sun, work
an hour or so in the back garden, quiet now
in dim November days, cooler, damper. I trim
the thick-stemmed top-heavy stick collards, fill
the dog-dug hole in the strawberry bed, drag
the trimmings to the compost heap, and then
drive again to the shore to walk as the sun
veils the mountains in glow shell pink, skins
the sea to raw electric blue tipped with gold.
I return, driving past the muddied plaza, the erased
camp, the gathering crowds, and sit with others
in a room high above the street, speaking of war
and books and dream. Gunshots below interrupt,
then brittle lights and sirens. I step outside
and find myself standing on a frail place, knowing
if I take one more step, the earth will break
and I will fall not to the ground but upward
into the dark outside the stars.
Something's gone awry at Oakland: Occupy. I feel it the minute I approach the perimeter. I see it in the faces of those who stand at that perimeter looking on, reaching out or standing glumly, hands in pockets. If this encampment is erased -- and it seems it will be; two notices of eviction have been served -- Frank Ogawa Plaza will not be as easily tidied as when the first camp was removed.
a tent city settling into the mud
Some tents have already been dismantled and removed, and some of those that remain have been sprayed with black spray paint: 'MOB TENT.' Getting kinda crazy like something’ bout to jump off, man we bout ready to mob out. .
. Maybe. Maybe not.
The ending will not be easy, I'm afraid. Those to whom I spoke did not suggest that they would not go easily or peaceably. Let 'em try
, one said, you'll see, you'll see. Ain't goin' easy, not me
. No amount of coaxing, no generous smiles, could convince him to elaborate beyond a tight-lipped hard-eyed stare.
The once green grass is sludged with mud, ground with trash. The library is open for business; the cook tent compressed, but still serving. The Kid Zone has been reoccupied by a teenager, sound asleep in the only chair. No matter. I glimpse only two children with parents who carry a film camera.
. . . and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances
Seeing this flyer taped firmly to a pillar, I complete the sentence aloud . . . and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, turn to a young man standing near by and ask him what grievances he would list if petitioning for redress. He wrinkles his brow and shrugs.
Whatever, who cares, don't matter . . .
But you're here. You must care, I say. We do have the right to petition for a redress of grievances, so why can't we put our heads together and come up with a list of potential actions that would make an immediate and real positive difference in the lives of the many, the 99%? We can avoid the trap of exhaustively listing everything, find one or two really really important issues and focus on those. Why not start with asking for the forgiveness of student loans and a health care system that serves all?
Start somewhere and start simply.
Public schools are closing, and public universities are rapidly becoming unaffordable for most working class families. The University of California – Berkeley estimates that a student should expect to budget quite a bit more than $30,000 to cover tuition and living expenses for 9 months of study. Who can afford that? Students are then cajoled into accepting damaging loan agreements. Cheerful financial aid counselors convince would-be borrowers that a college degree will guarantee generous salaries that will allow them to pay off these loans, but if this scenario of higher wages for college grads was once true, it is no longer. Just ask one of the hundreds of unemployed college grads who sit writing in coffee shops or those who are currently underemployed waiting tables or ringing up purchases at supermarkets everywhere. You’ll get an earful. I spoke to a public servant today who borrowed $15,000 to go to school, has been paying what he can afford, and now years later owes $28,000. Such loan practices are immoral and just plain wrong. In some cases, if all the interest paid month by month is added up, the original money borrowed has been repaid.
Forgive these usurious student loans now.
Students graduating with tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt cannot actively participate in society. Burdened by high monthly payments on absurd debt, they cannot get loans to start businesses, mortgages to buy houses. Forgive those loans and thousands of people would instantly have more disposable income. A simple stimulus that might kick-start the economy. Then, make education a priority. Establish real and reasonable federal subsidies for public education. Make sure all public schools are adequately funded, and then perhaps the absurd loans will no longer be necessary.
Kid Zone reoccupied by a sleeping teenager
Who knows? Perhaps if freed from paying ridiculous monthly payments on student loans, young people just might be able to afford medical insurance, but I doubt it. That system is still in need of major
reform and focusing on private health insurance providers is a mistake. We need federally funded healthcare.
Despite the passing of the recent health care bill, medical care remains elusive. For many, health care is simply unavailable or grossly inadequate (despite the valiant efforts of doctors and nurses working in clinics and public hospitals). Too many still cannot afford insurance, including me, and it's not a matter of waiting until the healthcare bill kicks in. That insurance will be no more affordable in two years than it is now.
Three years ago, I could pay $283/mo for moderately useful health insurance from Kaiser-Permanente. Today, if I could even buy a similar policy -- 20+% of applicants are denied -- the cost of that same policy, including a hefty deductible ($5000- 7000/yr), would be more than twice that.
Both medical insurance
and care are excessively expensive in part because healthcare in the US is an under-regulated and unashamedly for-profit business that has lost sight of any real
responsibility for fostering and creating community. Unfortunately, there are now more who want that profit to expand ad infinitum
than there are those who are content to accept modest profits that might allow for modest lifestyles. Drug manufacturers and insurance companies are making money hand over fist, and health care, when available, is suffering.
Sunday morning and the church tent is zippered shut.
The answer? Establish now a federally subsidized one-payer healthcare system that will guarantee the health and the welfare of all by making medical care available once again to everyone, not just those who can afford to buy expensive health insurance.
The United States is rich and powerful nation, and the United States is us -- we the people. We do have both the funds and the expertise to do this. It’s a matter of recognizing and organizing our priorities. A peaceful strong nation needs to invest in its future by educating its citizens and ensuring their health. We have a responsibility to demand that our tax dollars be used to support the education, health, and welfare of the American people. If we stop spending billions on weaponry and war, we can start spending billions on education, health, and life.
Occupy the mind and nourish the body politic.
Abandoned but not dismantled. the worker solidarity booth
In the past week, Oakland police working with US Marshals have arrested more than 130 suspected killers, thieves, drug dealers, and sex offenders. The sweep was announced as a valiant effort to make Oakland streets safe once again, and then late yesterday afternoon, yet another young black man was shot to death, this time near Occupy: Oakland.
a shrine for the fallen
Although most accounts of the shooting state that neither victim nor shooter were denizens of the encampment, immediately blame for the shooting was shifted onto the Occupiers, and now many are once again calling for the dismantlement of the camp. I know that after the shooting the first responder was a compassionate and skilled medic from the camp, but I also know that some of the response was chaotic and less than compassionate.Watching videos of the aftermath of the shooting that are now floating about
the web, I am inclined to agree that serious Occupy organizers should perhaps reassess strategy, dismantle the camp, get that office that they want, and start organizing beyond daily living. On one video
, a young woman can be heard crying out That's a dummy on the ground. They are resuscitating a dummy
. On another,
a man can be heard shouting Undercover cop, that's an undercover cop.
. . Both seem to be exhibiting paranoia out of control . . . that was not a dummy on the ground. No one was trying to manufacture an incident to shut down the encampment. The limp body on the ground was that of a young man, maybe twenty years old, bleeding out, a young man shot in the back of his head, a young man, dead. A young man killed in cold blood not by cops but by his "friends"
after an argument that some say was over a bag of weed.
The shooting may not be related to Occupy: Oakland, but with comments like that, those particular Occupiers who shouted out such things identified themselves as being perhaps dangerously out of touch with their hearts and minds. Of course, those two are not the all, but . . .
*Occupy your Mind.*
*Think and act Responsibly.*
I recall words that Dostoevsky wrote in a letter more than a century ago: The most unbearable misfortune is when you yourself become unjust, malignant, vile. Confined to a prison in most abominable circumstances, Dostoevsky was writing about himself. He recognized that the filth that surrounded him, the poor living conditions, the cold, the lack of food, were souring his spirit and confusing his mind.
It seems as if the Occupy encampment may be becoming a prison of sort. Rather than empowering its denizens, convincing them that they are the 99% -- the majority -- the camp is creating dangerous estrangement. Many are feeling increasingly separated from the surrounding community regardless of the obvious fact that the surrounding community is their community, our community, the community of the 99%. If you really believe yourself to be part of the 99%, to view the greater world as the enemy is a mistake. It's a troubled world, needing repair and much revision, but it is our world.
Buy local, eat local
We should not voluntarily imprison ourselves but seek instead ways to open our lives to beauty and love.
Obviously, some do. Signs have been posted beseeching campers to patronize local businesses and to respect those who visit, but not all extend welcome to visitors. Not all listen. Some are more interested in aggressively pushing back, and those few are edging to the forefront, blotting out the many who want peaceful resolution.
Early this morning, even I, definitely one of that 99%, was challenged by some rather aggressive characters lounging about the perimeter of the camp, accused of being a cop, because I was asking questions and taking pictures, documenting the camp in the falling rain.
I don't look much like a cop. Don't even own a baseball cap.
Think about it, work with the community, for the community
Once again, I find myself with my eyes closed, hoping for peace, wanting to believe that we can create and maintain a world founded on love, mutual respect, peace and justice.
I love this world, and I love life.
My heart goes out to the family of the young man shot to death.
Democritus said It is godlike ever to think on something beautiful and on something new, and that may be true, but gods often languish in far off regions while confused humans wander the earth. Sadly, last night the peaceful protesters, those who insisted on thinking something beautiful something new, went home and those bent on mayhem took over. A small band of mostly young men, faces hidden, identities masked, rampaged around downtown, breaking windows, lighting fires, and making a general mess for someone else to pick up. The small business owners downtown don’t deserve that. It is hard enough to run a business on a small profit margin without having to suddenly spend hundreds of dollars replacing windows, repainting walls, picking up someone else’s mess. This morning the helicopters returned. By 6 a.m. they were buzzing about, and I had to close the window to shut out the noise. By afternoon, rain and peace.
Last night someone spray painted this on a wall downtown:
Until the last capitalist is hung by the entrails of the last bureaucrat.
Really? Who shall we describe as a capitalist? The elderly couple living on the husband’s pension, money that arrives every month because other money has been invested and yields monthly dividends? Oops, yes, their income, money that pays their rent and buys them the small amount of food they can afford, is a result of, gulp, capitalism. And if that money goes away? Are you ready to step up to the plate and pay that rent, buy that food? And who exactly is a bureaucrat? The man who works overtime downtown, putting in longer hours than he is paid for, shuffling papers so that low-income folks can get housing? Yes, he serves as a bureaucrat. Are you going to slice his guts, make sure that no one is housed? There are good capitalists, bad capitalists, communists who really do share, communists who could care less about others, bureaucrats who work for the greater good, and those who rob the bank. Nothing, nothing, can be explained by simple dualism. It's all shaded and resonant, conf
Slogans are slogans, often too simplistic to have much meaning. That particular slogan blasted thoughtlessly onto a wall makes it rather clear those midnight marauders are not interested in REAL change; they want instead to stop change, to stay well away from potential solution.
Sadly, these provocateurs, more interested in shutting the movement down, may have recruited some fuzzy thinkers from within the movement to do their dirty work, convinced these confused yet rightfully angry young people that violence is necessary. Worse yet, the provocateurs, whoever they are, will (no doubt) be shielded; the fuzzy thinkers unmasked.
Come on, people, Occupy your mind, Think Responsibly. We want change, not wholesale destruction. We need to care for one another.
Yesterday's thousands of protesters were incredibly peaceful, determined, well-informed, and respectful of each other and of the property of all small business owners downtown. They were courageous. The small handful of violent self-declared 'anarchists' who came out after dark wearing masks were cowards or employed by those who want desperately to discredit the Occupy movement, to continue the status quo.
This morning, the legitimate Occupy protesters were back on the streets scrubbing out negative slogans, cleaning up the messes left by agitators. The ILWU invited protesters who had slept at the Port to breakfast and expressed support for what they have been saying and working for . . . Except for a few, most understand the violence as a separate issue, quite unrelated to those ideas and suggestions posited by the majority of the peaceful demonstrators.
Power to the people.
A million workers working for nothing
You better give 'em what they really own
We got to put you down
When we come into town
*** True, true, but How? By . . .***
Singing power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on
Speak clearly, demonstrate peaceably, ignore the provocateurs, or better yet . . . find out who hired them to wreak mayhem.
Thank you Gandhi.
Thank you Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thank you John Lennon.
Tomorrow has been declared as the day of the General Strike, a day of action. Today I write this, my prayer, my hope. May tomorrow be peaceful, a day not of violence but of reflection.
tomorrow, may it be peaceful
At 9 a.m. march is planned from 14th St to the Port of Oakland, but no one is divulging the route The reason given for that stubborn secrecy is that is the police were to find out the route they might attempt to stop the march, but such an argument makes little sense.
Keeping the route secret is silly. After all, the police do know the point of origin of the march -- that's no secret. Frank Ogawa Plaza. 14th & Broadway, printed and distributed. So if they want to stop the march, they'll show up there . . . if they don't want to stop the march, they'll just tag along, intervene if thing gets out of hand, but why should anything become eruptive if tomorrow's action is one meant as a show of strength, non-cooperation with evil. Non-violence. Ahimsa. Satyagraha.
It seems to me that paranoid secrecy suggests that violence is inevitable (thus the necessity for secrecy) and therefore discourages greater community participation. Violence is not inevitable nor desirable. Tomorrow can be a day of peaceful non-violent action. May it be so. If the route were known, more folks might feel comfortable participating and folks who live along the route (like maybe me) could plan to offer support.
We don't need or want secrecy.
Secrecy is dark, spongy, and breathless.
We need openness, creativity, participation.
We want Connection.
Connection encourages communication. Communication engenders sharing.
Sharing opens our hearts, allows us to decide in favor of life and living.
It is my prayer that tomorrow will be peaceful. Peace people to the front. Dogs will bark. Children will laugh. Men and women will sing. There will be no riots, no violence, no tear gas.
Today, as I walked through OCCUPY: OAKLAND, I found the encampment unsettled, uneasy, somehow disabled.
Worried perhaps about tomorrow. Nonetheless, other than the unhappy young woman at the information booth, who would not divulge anything about anything, most with whom I spoke were friendly but tired. Many remembered me from earlier visits and wanted to chat about tomorrow, about erasing fear, weaving kindness with peace.
My little dog Earnest was confused by the smoky anxiety that drifted through the camp. He stayed close to my side but gratefully said hello to those who reached down to welcome him. Watching him react lovingly to those who showed him love, shy away from those who stomped or yelled, I was reminded how trust grows through kindness, corrodes through fear. Fear confuses and dismantles, creates violence, but kindness grows love, creates peace.
Be kind to all you meet and trust, feel the heat
live for peace, create
Decades ago, we marched against the war in Vietnam. We worked for peace, lived for peace, practiced being kind to those who threatened me. It was not easy to speak openly and freely with those who heckled from the edges of the crowd, but we did. Some onlookers were gruff, angry, even mean, but nonetheless those of us who marched, believing as Gandhi did in non-violent resistance, spoke quietly of peace to those who would yell war, and because we spoke only with gentleness in the midst of anguish, disorder, standing quietly before anger, we found our hearts. We did not think of ourselves as soldiers, engaged in battle. Instead, we recalled ourselves as messengers of peace. I believe peaceful non-violent resistance is often more difficult, always more necessary, and usually more successful than violent and bitter revolution.
I know now is a different time, perhaps a harder time; hope may seem dimmer, its flame exhausted, the future barren and bleak, but still I think ahimsa, peaceful non-violent resistance, is the way. We need to work for peace, celebrate life on this beautiful planet. Let's live that beauty while we can. The problems we face are great and sometimes may seem insurmountable (and maybe are), but I am convinced we can solve these problems if we dare to imagine solutions capable of completely changing the way we live.
It was Gandhi who once suggested that
If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. . . We need not wait to see what others do.
Our actions can be simple. We can change the way we think. Knowing as Emerson did that a man is what he thinks about all day long, we can think of peace and gentleness. If we abandon the desire for more and more and more, if we recreate our lives so that we appreciate living simply, if we no longer crave luxury, if we stop consuming and consuming and consuming, if we find joy in small things, in the everyday, in what sparks moment by moment, second by second, we can perhaps rebuild our world as a world more equitable and graceful, capable of embracing us all.
Every American citizen deserves to have adequate shelter and food and health care. Every American should be able to enjoy creative and useful education. Every American deserves to be Happy, but in the midst of all this turmoil, perhaps we should remember that Happiness is a choice. We can create peaceful connections, kind interactions -- even with those with whom we might disagree. We can choose to be happy. We can allow for Joy, encourage gentleness and grace.
We can be kind.
send prayers on the wind to the dead
who listen not to $$
This afternoon, the Plaza was brushed by wind when I walking through, so much wind that posters went flying and empty tents set up to occupy began to tip and fold, sliding across terraces, piling into each other like tumbleweeds. But as strong as the wind was, it dispersed nothing. Organizing continued; plans were formalized, and on opposite ends of the camp, musicians played. One one side, inside blue light filtered through a tarp stretched between light poles, drummers sounded a complicated rhythm. On the other side, a sax player gently laid note after beautiful note on the back of the wind. May such sweet music continue in the morning and sound throughout the day. May there be peace.
Sustainability: feed the oak, feed the dream