Friday, October 7, 2011
The Wall Street Occupation has landed in Minnesota. I spent the past six hours in downtown Minneapolis, amongst a crowd of several hundred that slowly swelled as the afternoon went on. It was quite an interesting experience, and I plan on heading back tomorrow afternoon as well.
After being down there a few hours, I came upon a man sitting zazen in the grass. I sat down and joined him for about 20 minutes, sending out lovingkindness verses to everyone in the plaza. Calm energy seemed to rise within me during the meditation, and I carried that back into the crowd, having several conversations with people over the next few hours. At one point, I came upon three people with extremely different viewpoints debating. Listening to a guy who was very pro-free markets, and essentially came down to the protest to "talk" with folks because he didn't "get it" why we were there, I recognized strong aversion energy balling up in my chest. I decided it was an opportunity to sit again, so I did, watching the ball of energy morph and move around before dissipating. There was a strong desire to join the conversation at times, and to debate this guy who's views I really disagreed with. But as I had plenty of other opportunities to engage during the day, this one was all about staying quiet, and not being reactive.
In the middle of the afternoon, someone appeared with some markers and other sign making material. As I sat thinking of what to write, I decided to "out" myself as a Zen practitioner.
My sign read "Zen Warrior for Peace and Justice. Liberate the Economy; liberate each other."
It got a fair amount of attention, including a newscaster from one of our local TV stations. I haven't found any of the footage, so I might have gotten cut, but I did get interviewed.
What was extremely pleasing to witness was how numerous people went out of their way to thank the police and law enforcement officers around. Even though I have been deeply ambivalent about the role of law enforcement officials in protests, the acts of simple recognition and kindness were contagious - as I left the plaza this evening, I found myself telling several sheriff department officers to have a good night.
And really, that's how most of the day was - peaceful. People gave strong voice to their concerns and wishes for the country and the world, but the energy was positive, healthy, and occasionally bold and colorful.
Like the guy in this photo, whose box says "Emergency Clown Nose."
I have no idea what the future will bring for this movement - either here, or across the nation. I wish for it to be the start of some great transformation, but know that there's no way to know if that's possible at this time. Regardless, may the peaceful and bold energy I experienced today go out into the world, and keep coming back to us in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.
Minnesota made me proud today. We have entered the movement. It's about time.