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Every Day Acts of Peace

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Beijing 1990: Fear That Shakes Us From Our Power

Tonight after teaching,
at the secret underground school
in Beijing's university district,
I met my Friend at a cafe
to eat some late night dumplings.

We discussed what Mengzi wrote in 289 BC:
“Never give way to anger,
otherwise in one day you could burn up the wood
that you collected in many bitter weeks.”

We observed the irritation in Beijing,
it circulated fast, it was spreading,
from individual to individual.
Touching feelings buried so deep,
everything felt like a trigger,
for yet another emotional explosion.

We noticed a group of men.
They took seats at the table across from us.
They looked like Workers 
imported, from the countryside, as city labor.
Their volume raised, with each beer they drank.

These Workers became post-sports-game-loud,
increasing their hand-gesturing with their cursing.
They were outraged against the Students, 
for demonstrating in the streets.

State-owned media blamed the 'Student Protests',
for causing prolonged disruptions to the local economy.
So, these Workers blamed the Students 
for the current inflation, unemployment,
and economic terror imposed after 
Beijing's Spring protests crashed -
and we were all burned.

These Workers considered the Students extremists.
Media portrayed the Students as young terrorists,

in tension, armed with intention and the desire, 
for authentic social change.

The Protestor's will, bent the will of society.
Everyone desired social change, but -
not the unexpected creation of universal upheaval.

These Workers were not from Beijing.
If they had been then they would have known,
that the Workers walked equally along side 
the Teachers, Journalists, Doctors and Artists.

People from all walks of life, all together,
walked the streets of Beijing, arm in arm,
in protest as protectors of the peace and human rights.
Protectors and educators of the rights of humans to be.

Sometimes silence spreads false rumours of truth.
Sometimes silence creates truth that spreads faster than lies.

These itinerant labourers, 
armed with their particular perception,
were too drunk to care about the truth.
These Workers yelled, cursed, screamed -
so everyone could hear what they cared about.
Their blur of slurs was their protest -
a pouring forth of all their Worker feelings.

Arms flailing high filling into half the sky -
fists pumped the air seeking contact,
inventing rage against the Student protectors.
There seemed to be no peace,
and no justice for all.

"Young-egotistical-foolish!"
"Self-absorbed agitators!"
The Worker's outbursts over against the Students,
the Workers labored drunkenly to the door.
They weaved their lasting impressions on everyone,
as they searched for an exit, 
a safe place for themselves in this world.

Everyone in the café 
was also moved to leave. 
I stayed sitting. Still.
I was waiting for more to come.

I had noticed the Leader, 
the most vocally upset of the group, 
had a gun tucked into the waistband of his pants.

While my friend sat frozen in suspended animation,
I deepened my journey within, 
I made peace with my inner peace. 
I made more peace, more than I began the night with -
more to carry me through the whole night's journey.

Food comforts in times of difficulty.
We ate more dumplings, black vinegar and raw garlic,
and we discussed the Leader's gun.

Personally-owned guns in Beijing are very rare, 
and bullets even more scarce to come by.

My friend and I eventually exited the cafe - 
just in time to see the Leader, 
the angriest man of all the Workers,
now, even more angry, at everyone, at someone.
He reached out, and grabbed by the neck, 
a Student, who was riding past on his bicycle.

Excluding the Student, 
who was now lying on the ground, 
there were eight of us all in shock.
We were in shock at the unexpected suddenness, 
of late night dumplings mixed with drunken frenzy.

The Worker's Leader was incensed.
He insistently pulled, the protesting Student,
to a kneeling position.

This person, this Student,
who might not have been a Protestor at all,
was suddenly the target 
of all this Worker unreleased, unexpressed, 
frustrated Worker worked-up pent-up anger.

The Student was kicked repeatedly, and cursed.
I stepped forward, to do something, anything -
but I was pulled back into a spectator position.

My Friend did not want us to get involved.
It was against his code of ethics.
I disagreed, resisted 
and verbally challenged my Friend 
over the differences in our beliefs.

But as we debated the world grew even more surreal.

As my Friend and I battled each other, 
about the wisdom of interfering with the desires,
of a man on a drunken rampage waving a gun -
our whole mythic world tumbled.

We witnessed socialist equality among the classes 
become violently overturned and redefined.

The Worker's Leader gun was pulled,
cocked and placed next to the Student’s head.

The swing of the gun, the metal blur and click
created a silence that punctured and slowed all motion.

The nightmare heightened, 
as we witnessed that some nights seem 
as if the whole world is reduced 
to a dream sequence of confrontations.

Our hearts chilled watching these sights -
Hate being acted out, within,
Within, the grasp of our intimate surroundings.

All of our potential added up to nothing 
just frozen interactions, until,
Until someone - the angry man’s girlfriend, reacted.
She came forward braking the trauma -
she therefore broke the tension.

I watched 
as breathless passion 
suppressed the surreal,
and smeared her lipstick-mouth 
tense-red then twisted.

Her lips addressed her struggle 
to pin down her fear
while convincing her boyfriend 
that his feelings 
were not worth killing for.

I watched this angry man,
his down-deep gut-felt feelings
wrestle a rise from his unconsciousness -
and look for ways out 
of his bewildering emotional encasement.

I had no doubt that he wanted an escape. 
He wanted to escape his life, 
this predetermined outcome.
I went inward to make more peace.
Suddenly he was altered.

Suddenly altered, 
into a state of consciousness, 
he paused –
then kicked the Student 
into the ditch and left.

I moved towards the Student,
then my Friend pulled me back ... 
whispered softly ...
leave the Student alone ... 
let him deal with his humiliation ...
give him time ...
to recover his lost composure.

Unsure, 
I wanted to give more.
So, my Friend reassured me,
that what the Student needed from us 
was the space to recover his dignity.

Worked into exhaustion,
the drunken man left,
gone in search of Self-recovery.
He arrived at the beginning of this night
a leader of men,
and now he left 
a drunk sober with self-remorse.

I wished for him a renewal, 
a recentering from this 
our recently shared yet another renewed trauma.

I hoped that he would somehow regain 
his lost composure once he self-realized, re-found himself.
He might reinvent himself, from his Self-awakenings -
re-visit the deep healing effects of this newest experience.

I hoped his Self-awareness 
would return after his body de-stressed. 

I witnessed him move through these events.
I watched him passage through this twisted mass of time - 
emotionally vacate his mind from his personality,
he was a measurement of our humanity's maturity.

I saw all his buried sentiments stress.
I witnessed his pressure forge from his unexpressed,
and suddenly let loose to become emotional stuckness.
A rage against the machine of man's making, humanity's scourge.

To watch an individual consciously manifest war,
is to observe hate activate a personalized weapon,
of mass of personality become destructive. 
I watched his body go from fluid physical possibility 
to become mentally unconscious and de-potentialized.

Over time the unspeakable terror of change 
unites us all with the uncontrollable -
all existence is forced inside
and married with feeling.
Where the unresolved builds up pressure,
all natural unnatural forces twist, 
a person's humanity bends into shapelessness.

Rage is a shapeless shameful force,
that becomes over time, 
a weapon of mass destruction,
a rage that ravishes by feeding on revenge.

Witnesses to his turmoil, 
we all become in turmoil.

He was shaken, he is shaken, he shakes -
we were shaken, we are shaken, we shake.

Witnesses to this turmoil,
we are all left motionless.

Emotionally spent on the side of the road,
united speechless, in the temporary loss 
of our self-identities -
to the kind of fear,
that shakes us from our power.

~~ Other People's Fingerprints ~~
Sometime after 1892 Marina Tsvetaeva wrote;
“My horse is a devouring fire,
Where my horse breathes--no spring runs.
Where my horse leaps--no grass grows.
O, fire, upon him--unsatisfied rider!
My hair knots into his red mane...