These protests have captured the imagination of many folks around the city and the rest of the US. At my mother’s birthday party, people discussed whether this could be the beginning of a return to the activism of the sixties. The mood was hopeful. The next night, I was at dinner at a trendy, uber expensive midtown restaurant dining with a CEO friend (who sells software to wall street) and a successful litigator (who does class action stuff on either side). To over simplify, the CEO was arguing that the protests were naïve, the litigator was saying that it was the only reasonable response to the situation. Both agreed that they don’t pay enough in taxes and that the US political establishment is lacking true leadership.
I am pretty sympathetic to the frustration amongst many in the US right now. A lot of money went into keeping the financial system from tanking and yet too many Americans are out of work, uninsured and suffering. Fairly straight forward ideas like raising taxes on those most able to afford it and using it to pay down the deficit, extending unemployment insurance and putting people to work on important infrastructure projects get killed off by an extremely partisan political process. So off I went.
I brought my camera in hopes that I could find the meditators, join in and then interview some of them for the blog.
I started at Foley Square where people were assembling before marching down to join the occupiers in the park. People were streaming in and it was getting pretty packed and the cops started limiting access. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, not being really used to crowds any more. I found a place on the fountain where I could stand a bit above the crowd. No meditators, as far as I could see. So I just started to quietly practice (standing meditation in this case). My mind soon settled.
After fifteen minutes or so I dropped the practice and took in the scene. People were from every age, race and most likely religion. I don’t think I have ever seen such a broad range of people at a protest rally before. And something else striking was the atmosphere; everyone was really nice, kind and loving. I suppose as literally every third was recording everything, from cell phone camera to professional equipment, and everyone, even the police, was on good behavior. None-the-less there was far more love than anger in the air. That was really different.
I ran into my step-father and an actor friend of his. My step father does meditate but as an old sixties radical he wasn’t in that sort of mood. Then, we ran into Josh, who took the What Meditation Really Is class I gave here last winter. It seemed like we might be gaining momentum.
The march started, we all needed a bit of a break and instead of going down Broadway with the crowd we took a back route down Church Street. We made it to the park, but Josh and I retreated to the Hilton which had a nice bench out front and reflected on meditation practice and protest.
My cell phone, set to vibrate jumped out of my back pocket. My step-father was shouting “I found the meditators, I found the meditators!”. They were only two blocks away. Two blocks and five to ten thousand people. It took us nearly a half an hour.
The meditators had dissolved by then. So no chance for me to join in and no interview for the blog. But I looked on facebook and I saw they are meeting again on Saturday…
In the meantime, here is a video I found from the protest a few days before.