New York, NY – I closed my store and marched yesterday, May 1st, 2012, out of respect and solidarity for the International Labor Movement, aware, thanks to an NPR program, that the Haymarket Square Riot of 1886, Chicago, had been acknowledged in Poland and other countries during their own labor and political struggles.
The personal takeaway, having trudged from Union Square, late in the afternoon, to Wall Street, later that evening, was being an active part of history, punching a big red balloon high into the sky, and observing personal solidarity–as well as some interesting fashions (a number of bleached heads on the guys)–with the cadre I was marching. More significantly, I felt it answered a call to an urgent civic duty, and, quite unexpectedly, also gave me a role in ‘compassionate history.’
At one point, as the NYPD muscled our stream of lumpen marchers aside, I felt like a doomed pilgrim, a Kurt Vonnegut character of sorts, headed for a slaughterhouse chute. Or perhaps even some hungry lions. But I was also reminded that spiritual values, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” and Constitutional ones, “to provide for the common weal,” were being resurrected. My faith restored, progressive political reform, better education, fair labor practices, fair treatment to newcomers and their first generation American children, and respect for the rights of LGBT, became, in my heart and mind, the pilgrimage and actual shrine to which we were all headed.
After several rewarding, at times, colorful hours, having stopped at the banks to say “get a job,” chant an expletive or two at the powers that be, while also having been flashed many different signs from enthusiasts, and a few detractors, out the windows of our building-lined ‘canyon’ known as Broadway, we finally arrived, end of the line, at the US Customs House near the American Stock Exchange at the Bowling Green IRT [subway] Station. There, the seasoned Occupiers sat down and began to educate. It’s then I experienced the ripened fellowship of Universalism, as if Logos, The Word—or even just, “Word?”—had been made flesh. A pilgrimage the recounting of which only a modern day Chaucer, or perhaps George Orwell, if only, might be worthy.
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