In my dream, I walk down from my local apartment to an Occupy Movement site–with just maybe 20-30 people in the barricaded area. It was in front of an old civic building (I’m not sure what was inside). The Occupation had no tents, no kitchen…it was tiny. But constantly rotating people. Some of my old friends from forest activism days would rotate in and out. Many young people were there–but just as many of the forty and fifty-somethings. At the front of the crowd–nearest the civic building was a row of policemen–maybe six of them. I passed through the crowd and to a makeshift bench on the far side. Just after I did, the policeman that was nearest the entrance to the Occupy area began taking a sharpie and writing numbers on everyone’s arm. No one was allowed to enter without one. The policemen began giving orders and interpreting the rules. This could be done, this couldn’t be done. The crowd became more creative in order to lodge protest. My friend and fellow community organizer began subtly buckling on a harness and gathering some black nylon rope for a stunt. The mood in the crowd shifted there was an edge to the group and then a conscious decision by the crowd to embrace the situation, to rise above it and to respond with a higher wisdom. The policeman at the gateway became more nervous, more agitated. Those next to him were also on alert. But off to the far end was a policeman–no helmet, no riot gear. He had curly red-brown hair. He started talking to everyone. Just side conversations. But he shared that he’d been practicing tonglen (a Tibeten Buddhist meditation for compassion). He reached out to touch me–a reassuring gesture. In that moment, all I could mutter was that didn’t want to be touched. I couldn’t bear the thought of that odd juxtaposition. But then I realized I’d been wrong to react that way. I told the policeman that and he smiled. The whole crowd smiled.
Shifting to a drowsy, waking state I realized: This movement is really about getting to know each other. What a wonderful opportunity for humans to show their best. What a great way to get people out of their homes, into reality, and talking to each other. The barriers aren’t just the physical ones. And love can come from anywhere.