This is a post by Modgala - she has agreed that I can share any of her writing:
Student riots and anger that are exploding here in London in response to the increased fees, and conversations with Massimo have inspired me to share – both about past activities and what I feel we can do in the present.
I guess we are all worried, I know my fellows in the faiths forum are worried about the effect of cuts on the needy, and we have been exploring “what are our roles”. Now we have student riots too.
I am reminded of “September 11th”. Dharmavidya and I were at a protest against an arms trade fair in London that day. We had gone to the conference centre with the local people in the official protest and were waiting for the large procession of unofficial protestors to arrive. There was a large police cordon separating the groups however Dharmavidya and myself, in our robes, ringing our bells were allowed to remain in the middle ground, close to the police cordon. Most protestors were not aggressive, however I remember one trying desperately to “wind up” and attack the police. We drew closer to the cordon, ringing our bells, distracting the angry man, as they went by other protestors gave us the thumbs up; fortunately no serious trouble evolved.
Since then I, along with other Amida and non Amida people, have been on many demonstrations, creating this middle space where calm prevailed yet did not silence and sometimes enhanced the protest. The robe and bell helped dignify a quiet place amongst the crowds, a counterpoint to some of the aggressively loud groups angry at Blairs’ stance. In the early anti-war demos we were often joined by people fearful of the noise and confusion and new to protest and often held workshops and gathering before and after the protest to offer space to people considering action or “winding down” from action.
I do not necessarily think we should be out there protesting, but I do think we need to ask the question “What can we do now?” Let us think creatively, share our experience, do things together that enable others to speak out and survive these difficult times.
Many people are angry and fearful, many polarised in their views, the police are also probably fearful and in that place prone to over-react too.
We practitioners of the nembutsu way have found something precious – we can share this jewel. Many times the chanting has helped people find their place in the “eye of the storm”, and it has certainly helped me to be there. We may not be able to do grand things, however I do have faith that together we can make a difference.
Namo Amida Bu