Trying to get the images of street violence in Oakland out of my mind today, with little success. As a practicing Buddhist for more than 15 years now, I see why people need to take to the streets to express their frustrations, and why police may feel threatened by their actions. But brutal shows of force have little place in practice, or in the world at large. Most of the time they just come off as exaggerated and fear based, not real solutions in any sense of the word — especially if you end up in the hospital, I suppose.
Sometimes when I watch the news, or the Internet, where most people actually get their news these days, I often find myself saying, “Are you kidding? You really want me to believe that a few rocks (while wearing riot gear and carrying shields, mind you) justifies throwing people to the ground, firing beanbags at body parts, and forcefully dispersing peaceful protesters?”
You really expect me to believe that?
Over time, activists have gotten smarter. And now, in the age of of the constantly churning news cycle and ubiquitous cell phone cameras, you can’t get away with stuff you used to do. So the reframe for me today involves seeing, hearing, and witnessing. It involves watching those shaky videos posted online, and feeling in some way connected to these people who are trying to express themselves, and really the majority of us as well. It’s about seeing how just watching, seeing, and validating reveals the truth.
Little by little, frame by frame, this process shows what’s actually happening in the world. When each one of us is frustrated that nothing is being done, we can click a link and see that yes there is, right there, at this very moment.
My heart and my thoughts are with you, wherever you are, if you want to slay ignorance and greed. Next step is to create a series of action steps to get there, yes?