Sunday, 4 March 2012

Jesus Or Charles Manson? You Be The Judge

LUKE 6:37: Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.

I happened upon Occupy by chance.  While writing and posting pictures for CNN iReports I found Occupy an opportunity I could not pass up.   I became very intrigued with what OWS was standing up for and found that I too was part of the 99%.  I continued photographing and interviewing Occupants and supporters for weeks, frequently taking my two daughters with me (ages 6 and 8 at the time).  Not long into my venture I found myself getting to really know some of these people, and loving the time I spent with them.  They were warm, inviting, generous, and happy people.  They were focused and ready to fight for change.  (Although fight may not be the appropriate word as they showed nothing but peace even when faced with aggressors.  On more than one occasion I saw people scream at them "Get a job!" "Lazy Bums!" and each time the response from Occupy protesters was to hold up the "peace" sign.)

Through the several interviews I found that these people were very misunderstood and that they were not at all what people were frequently saying.  Many were business owners and most were at the very least employed.  Several were college educated.  Yes there was a portion of the Tent City that housed some of the homeless from our community- but that does not change the fact that the majority of the Occupy members were not in the typical demograph we were hearing about on the news or through gossip.  These people were not "lazy" they were completely the opposite- they worked very hard to keep their small "tent city" community organized, and functioning based on a volunteer and donation system- while many still maintained employment and/or their own businesses, their homes AND families.  
One section of the community was separated off with a rope and a small sign designating it as "Sacred Space".  

My daughters and I were invited to join in a group meditation while at Occupy on October 9th.  This was the first experience with meditation during my lifetime.  They began by explaining the intention to share a simple energy of peacefulness and acceptance and to hold the intention of awakening and healing of all beings to love and freedom from suffering.  My daughters and I joined them in the circle and partook in the energy given while Michael Porfilio worked his energy with the "singing bowl".  The experience was so calming and beautiful that I cried when it was over.    

On occasion we were able to join Salt Lake City Meditation Mob.  I will admit that I find a great deal of pleasure in photography, and my main focus was to capture images of these beautiful people sharing their positive energy with others.  Guilty am I- I partake in their beauty and spirit!  After the most recent venture of SLCMedMob at the Reflecting Pool on the Main Street Walk Way, I posted the pictures to share with all who know me and many who do not.  The next evening my husband mentioned his mother was concerned about the people I was taking my daughters around, it seems she had been told by one of her nieces that my daughters have been hanging out with men who look like Charles Manson.  I was in complete shock- how could they see the same man that I look at and find a connection with a horrific criminal, when I find him more connected to a man the Church refers to as Jesus Christ?

I was raised in the LDS faith, with not the best examples- none the less I recall being taught that we are to not judge others based on appearance, and that we are to "Love thy neighbor as thy brother.".  
Below is a portion of my response on Facebook to my husband's family: 
             "At this time I would like to ask for people to please open their minds and consider- that a person who looks unusual to you may just be one of the most amazing and beautiful spirits. Jesus is made out to appear as a man that walked the earth with long hair and a long beard, he preached love, peace, happiness, and charity. Jesus Christ is not much different than many of the people that you will find in the pictures I have of OccupySLC or SLCMedMob.
            I would also encourage many to read about Occupy Salt Lake before they judge the people who support it as "Radicals". The truth of the matter is I have found MANY beautiful and kind people through Occupy AND SLCMedMob - I see a group of people who want a better future for our country, our people, our children, and our children's children. Their message is one of love, and peace. They are not a violent people. Their focus is a peaceful movement- ****IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ASK**** I am more than happy to discuss our involvement with Occupy Salt Lake City and SLCMedMob. You might just find out that they are no different than you and I. You just might decide that they aren't "crazy". YOU MIGHT JUST LIKE THEM... AND MAYBE EVEN AGREE WITH THEM.
            As for the pictures I believe are in question, I have included one that I believe may be the "root" of the issue. The man in this picture is one of the most peaceful, generous, kind, and loving human beings I have met in my lifetime. He has shared the gift of meditation with my children and I and has explained the intention of group meditation as an offering of our positive energy as a "gift" to all those around us. I hope that anyone who may have thought this person to be anything less than that which he is will take the time to self reflect and consider that they are not following the teachings of the Lord for:  Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged"

Sometimes the most beautiful of God's creatures is the one that appears quite different than all the others.

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