“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
―Martin Luther King Jr.
Although the first reports of the mainstream media attempted to downplay the numbers with headlines like "Thousands gather.......", by evening it was obvious. Even the stridently right wing Fox News conceded that upwards of 310, 000 people had gathered on the streets of New York City, other accounts had it upwards of 400, 000. With another estimated 200, 000 participating in events in other locations throughout the world, the Peoples Climate March was the largest environmental demonstration in history.
For me, the most striking moments of an long, long day filled with striking moments began at 12:58 PM when, as planned, the multicolored river of humanity that stretched for miles through the streets of Manhattan went totally silent. Amazingly, nobody had to say "hush". The sounds of silence itself swept over us -- in an instant. What had in one moment been a exuberant throng of drumming and chanting and singing and whooping climate marchers was now a Silent Presence. In the distance a solitary siren wailed momentarily, a fitting reminder of the situation which we are facing on this planet. Then, it too disappeared, embraced by the Stillness.
In those moments the One Love was obvious. In that Silent Presence, the Heart of our concern for this planet and all its miraculous beings beat as One.
Then, at 1 PM, hundreds of thousands of human voices and church bells and drums and musical instruments erupted with a resounding roar. With the speed and power of a bolt of lightning, sweeping uptown like a tsunami of sound and energy, that roar cascaded up Central Park West lifting the throng of us gathered at 86th Street into the One Voice that had emerged.
Though wordless, the message was clear: It is time. Our Planet must be Healed.
I still get goosebumps as images of those few moments on Central Park West emerge. As I sit here almost a week later, Pema Chodron's words on the mahamudra teachings of Tibetan Buddhism come to mind. "If you want to pare all phenomena down, all there would be are stillness and occurrence: space and that which is continually born out of space and returns into space -- stillness and occurrence." She then went on to point out the suffering and struggle that emerges when we grasp for either.
I feel blessed to have felt the power of each of those seeming poles of Reality within the span of a few moments that day, to have experienced the vividness of that boundless shared Stillness and surge of that shared Occurrence that emerged like thunder amidst the 400, 000 bodhisattvas gathered to demonstrate our concern for the denizens of this precious planet. Hopefully, it will be part of what some have called the Great Turning, the badly needed shift in human consciousness that could prevent our collective demise.
|Betsy holding our placard at 86th and Central Park West|
Like two hands held at the heart in gassho, each graces the my life.
*A term coined by Thich Nhat Hanh to more accurately describe the interdependent nature of all phenomena