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The Divine Twins, Occupy, and Us

We love the Shadow Twin so much. S/he is very dramatic, compelling, and causes our heart to race, whether in anger or deep desire. S/he pumps us into frenzies of emotion, clouds our thinking, takes us over.

We love the Bright Twin too. S/he is beautiful and sunny, filling us with thoughts of love. She paints the world in gorgeous colors, and causes spontaneous bursts of laughter or dancing.

But somehow s/he doesn’t hook us in quite the same way as hir sibling.

This was evidenced on Saturday, as I met my compatriots from the Interfaith Tent at Occupy Oakland to support the group that wanted to utilize an abandoned building to build a community center, with a library, art space, and a food kitchen. The day was filled with sun, children with balloons and brightly colored signs, music, dancing, and smiles. The Bright Twin was there.

The City of Oakland had other ideas. I cannot claim to know them all, but the first polarization was already occurring in that the City claimed the Occupiers were set on vandalizing a building, and planned to stop them. Different viewpoints were in play before the day even began. The Divine Twins walked among us.

Hundreds of photos were taken – including my own, dozens of times – of the smiling faces, the music… the Bright Twin showing hir face. Not one of those photos made it into what we call “mainstream media”. Why? The Shadow Twin can seem even more beautiful than hir brother/sister. Photos of smoke bombs, tear gas, flash grenades and things on fire capture our hearts in a way that smiling children just don’t seem to. There is an excitement about it that we don’t see every day. There is money in it.

But it isn’t just about the unusual and monetization. It is about ourselves. How many times have you sat around a table with friends, discussing theology, philosophy, politics, your community, or your kids? How many times has the conversation changed to one filled with complaining? In struggling toward a world we want to live in, it is common to focus on what feels irritating or troubling. It is also common for that to take over our thoughts and conversations. The allure of the Shadow Twin catches us once again.

Least you think I malign the Shadow Twin here, know I do not. Both twins are gifts from the seamless whole, each reflects a face of God Herself. Without them both, showing us varying facets of this dance of life, we would have a hard time learning and growing. We need the push and pull, the tears and laughter, the lust and love, the joy and anger. We require it all to become strong.

The Divine Twins rest within each of us, and they also walk among us. They are in the riot police. They are in the children, carrying balloons. The are in the diesel party bus and the stalwart walkers. We don’t honor them enough. If we honored them more clearly, we could recognize their faces, and not begin to demonize that which we think we know. We don’t know, because we fail to see the reflections of our own faces, right in front of us.

So, at the end of a bright and beautiful day, what is left? Images of fire, and smoke, and conflict. What will I remember most? That in the midst of that, were people singing.

I am writing about life, of course, but also want to caution us to read any news with a critical gaze. Ask yourself: “How are they trying to hook in my emotions? What are they not reporting? What skews their view and manipulates mine?”

This happens all the time. I saw it on Saturday in Oakland, and I saw it last Friday in San Francisco, where every few blocks was another street party, more music and color. I saw two large bank headquarters shut down for a whole business day. I saw interfaith leaders coming together. I saw dancing and laughter. I saw courts occupied and people educated at corporations. What was reported by mainstream news? That the day was a failure and ended with broken windows and a stand off between police and protestors after dark.

The Shadow Twin wins many battles in the contest for our minds and hearts. The Bright Twin has just as much strength, and is present every day, all around us. Which do we notice more? Which do we preference? Can we hold them both, within ourselves, in love?

“We are unstoppable. Another world is possible!” All it takes is love, and time.

—- Middle photo by Stephen Lam of Reuters. Other two from my camera

EDIT with Important Update: My post was written from a spiritual/philosophical viewpoint. Below is a really good recounting of the day from someone who was there from start to finish. I was at the march from the beginning, through the convention center and street “battle” near the Oakland Museum and left right before the marchers reconvened at the Plaza. I can attest to the truth of this report up until the night marches – which I only followed on livestream. The description of the night marches sounds accurate to me also, from what I saw on livestream and from reports from Interfaith compatriots who were caught up in the arrests. If you want more information on the activity of Saturday, please read Boogie Man’s account.

And here is a non-mainstream account of Friday’s festival in SF.

Two other notes: I was teaching all day Sunday/today so did not make it to the Plaza, but heard that the Bright Twin arrived in the guise of a large contingent of ministers from a local African American church who came to show solidarity and bless Occupy Oakland. Also, one of my interfaith compatriots spoke at the gathering. She was thrown to the ground by an officer who ground her head into the sidewalk, leaving a large red welt. Her offense? While in the kettle, she asked him what he was doing. One of our interfaith group was not yet released from jail as of this writing.

May we work with love and peace, for justice.

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