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Practicing Peace at Ground Zero

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There’s a great post by Patrick Groneman over at the Interdependence Project website about the Bearing Witness vigil that took place near Ground Zero in New York City on the ninth anniversary of September 11, 2001. The small group of meditators had to make their way through two very vocal opposing forces — those in support of the proposed mosque/Islamic community center and those against it.

An excerpt from Patrick’s post:

After the first two minutes of sitting and following my breathing I broke into tears –all I could feel and hear was pain, and it was so deep, and so pervasive. My own fear and sadness became indistinguishable from the pain and suffering of those around me. Like a nursery of babies crying for our lost mothers, it seemed like we were all there looking for a way to express our sadness and fear to each other, but instead it came out in anger:

“Faggot” “Racist” “Idiot” “Hippie” “Biggot” “Terrorist” “U-S-A!!”

Like bullets the protesters shot words at each other, considering it a victory if they got shot back at, finding solidarity not in peace, but in perpetuating the energy of argument. No real conversation about sadness, grief, fear or anger could take place in this environment, there was no space for healing.

The longer we sat, the more people became curious abut what we were doing – cameras were clicking, people were asking us what we were trying to accomplish. One passerby yelled:

“This is New York, don’t just sit there…stand up and say what you believe in”

You can read the whole post here. Thank you for your practice, Patrick.

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About Maia

I've been practicing and studying the Buddha way since 1994, and exploring the question "What is engaged Buddhism?" since the late 90s. As former executive director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and editor of its journal, Turning Wheel, I had the honor of meeting and working with many practitioners of engaged dharma, including Roshi Joan Halifax, Joanna Macy, Alan Senauke, and Robert Aitken Roshi. I write about socially engaged Buddhism on my blog, "The Jizo Chronicles," as well as on the theme of personal and collective freedom on my website, "The Liberated Life Project." Through my Five Directions Consulting, I offer support to individuals and organizations who aspire to integrate awareness into their work.

One response »

  1. So ugly. We are so ugly sometimes.

    Reply

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