Monday, March 22, 2004

March 20 Peace Rally and Stuff

I had been planned to write something about the gay and lesbian marriages happening here in Portland, but I’ve been too busy planning for Portland’s peace rally and march, one year after the invasion of Iraq. It was a great day. Organizers I trust estimate 12,000-15,000 people were there. Afterward I got far too involved in the backbiting so common to the web and as found on Portland’s Indymedia.

There were great speakers. Jim Lockhart of captured some great audio. For me the highlight of the day was the keynote speaker, Ramon Ramirez, president of PCUN. He sent chills down my spine. The Portland Buddhist Peace Fellowship brought its ever portable meditation vigil. I was holding the meditation vigil space, not so easy when people in a crowd see open space as a way to move from one spot to another. There's just something about being at a rally and meditating that I wouldn't trade for anything. It's like the music and the speakers directly reach my heart. Ramon really got the crowd fired up. When you're meditating and listening, a lot of it goes deeper than memory, you can't remember the specifics, but you come away with a truth. Some things resound like a bell though, and ring through your head the rest of the day, and longer. I remember him talking about some Republican representative who said we shouldn't protest the war because we shouldn't oppose our people, our troops. Ramon objected. His people?! Our troops aren't his people, they're our people. Our people! Not your people! People of color! Our people! Working people! Not your people! I shivered in response. I wanted to be Ramon's people.

It was easier to hold the space after the march came back. (I stayed at the vigil space.) More people sit down to meditate after marching for some reason. The most we had at one time was six. I think because it was such a nice day the crowd was smiley and bouncy and didn't want to sit still. Then, there were just me and my friend Sam again, and along came this kooky guy. He had blue gloves on, and at first I thought he was acting like a mime. Then he sat down, for a little bit. Then he got up, danced around some, and made motions like he was gathering something in the air and placing it into the ground. It reminded me of tai chi, but it wasn't. Then, as Sam described it later, he was doing some strange hopping about like spiderman. Then he started playing with the buddha peace buttons we had for sale as a fundraiser. I almost thought he was going to take off with the donation box. Finally, he mounted a green buddha peace button in front of the Buddha statue on our little altar, and he bounded away, rather Tigger-like.

So Sam, Sara, and Sara’s friend Bob and I went out to dinner, a yummy Thai place Bob suggested. Sam and I were telling them about this guy, and Sara suggested he was a tweeker. Mind you, it was only a week or two ago that I first came across this word. When I wrote about riding the bus, a woman in California told me I probably share my ride with tweakers too. So I found out what that meant, people on meth, but realized I wouldn't even know it if I saw someone on meth. So now I have an idea...maybe. While he acted in ways completely unpredictable (not mime, not tai chi, maybe crazy, not a thief) I didn't feel like he acted disrespectful. I thought in his way he was being quite respectful.

More than one speaker felt it was important to express public support of gay and lesbian marriages, including Ramon Ramirez. I had the opportunity to write about Buddhism and same-sex marriages for my volunteer gig with NW Dharma News. The Buddhist leaders in the Portland area that responded to my query were supportive, ready to conduct legal ceremonies, and had in fact been conducting same-sex marriage ceremonies for some time. I got the news of the ceremony of a member of my sangha, who was able to get married legally after nearly 22 years in his committed relationship. I had the hardest time getting started on the article. I kept getting weepy. Kinda funny for someone who got married for tax purposes. I am so PROUD right now that I live in Portland, Oregon. I only hope the upcoming court ruling upholds these marriage licenses.

No comments: