My first post in this series considered the idea that we can look at our lives as being like a dream or a movie, parts of which are being written outside of our awareness. I talked about an experiment I do occasionally in which I record and explore an actual lived-experience as if it had been a dream. In this post, Part 2, I share my "dream" of a Neo-Nazi Rally -- a rally I actually attended with a group of counter-protesters proclaiming instead that "Knoxville is for All of Us."
Here’s my Rally dream (complete with some imagery !):
Members of the National Social Movement, a group of white supremacists from the Detroit area, have come to Knoxville to rally for tougher immigration laws. I've come down to join friends for a counter-rally.
I find a parking space and walk down to Main Street to look for my friends. A bunch of them are gathered under a large tree where a water station has been set up. A security checkpoint has been set up by police directly across the street and a lot of people are lined up to go through.
Franz tells me that they are not allowing people to take water bottles past the checkpoint. It's around 94-degrees and I decide to stand in the shade and drink more water before I leave my aluminum bottle in a box so I can get through security.
Once I'm through the checkpoint, I make my way toward the crowd of people on the north side of Main Street. I see lots city and state police in riot gear. I find a piece of shade that's more toward the edge of the action but close enough for a good view of the old Courthouse on the south side of Main.
There's a lot of activity on the counter-rally side of the street. Several people are dressed like clowns.One woman is dressed up like a blue Lady Liberty. Another woman is dressed kind of like Scarlet O'Hara at the picnic in Gone With the Wind.
While we wait, a guy with a mike and sound system keeps up a stream of chatter about the Nazi group. Then music is played and a lot of people dance. I take pictures of all the different signs that people have made. There's a few interesting quotes from the Bible and a lot of LOVE signs printed on the flip side of a list of principles for non-violent protests. People also have on t-shirts with writing on them. One guy has an Obama shirt. I see one young woman with a t-shirt that says on the back: "Live Free or Die - Death is not the greatest of evils - General John Stark." I find the message a little unsettling and I take a picture of it.
I find myself especially curious about two signs in Spanish. The counter-protest theme is "Knoxville is for All of Us -- Knoxville es para todos" -- but these 2 signs say something different and I don't recognize all the words. It takes several tries to get clear pictures of them.
Finally the NSM group arrives and takes a position behind the cannons and yellow police tape across the street. A friend who is standing near me says that she wishes the other group had not gotten the side of the street with the cannons. I start laughing and say, "yes, but don't cannons kind of look like a big phallus?" We both laugh because when the counter-rally was planned, I had told her I wasn't sure I would go because events like this can end up just being crazy testosterone battles and I didn't want to be part of anything like that.
On our side of the street people are raising their signs over their heads. On the neo-Nazi side they unfold several flags. Several have swastikas on them. One is a Confederate flag. The rhetoric on both sides of the street seems to be ramping up.
Suddenly the neo-Nazis move forward in a line right up to the edge of the police tape. Several raise their right arms to a 45-degree angle and shout loudly and sharply, "Sieg heil!"
I feel like I have been violated, like my soul has been pierced. It scares me and pisses me off, and suddenly I realize that I'm right there on that razor's edge between hate and love, leaning dangerously toward hate. After a moment of shock, I call for assistance from my spirit teachers. Using mental imagery I seal the holes and re-center myself deep within the protective energy of love.
I look at the people across the street and think to myself: "Each one of them has a spiritual Self just like I do, just like all the people on my side of the street do." This thought blows my mind and I wonder how hate gets such a strong hold on people. I decide to try imagining them in a sphere of protective love too, but it's hard to hold that thought and hold that feeling for them. I feel like Harry Potter in the cemetery with Voldemort toward the end of Goblet of Fire.
The shouting back and forth across Main Street continues. I'm sensing an energy on edge, wavering back and forth between stable and unstable. I notice that the wind has picked up and the sky is dark. A storm is coming. I decide to move to the outside edge of the crowd and out from under the tree. I get wet as the rain comes down but being a little bit further away from the crowd seems to make it easier to stay love-centered.
As the storm fades out, I turn my attention back to the people on my side of the street. I notice that a black man is standing near me. He is also looking at the crowd on our side of the street, and shaking his head.
"I never seen anything like this," he said. We exchange enough small talk to figure out that we had been about the same age during the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties. He keeps repeating that he'd been in some of the marches back then but he never saw anything like this. I sensed he wanted to say more. I'm curious to know more about why he thinks it was different. I have an impulse to ask him but the words won't come out. It feels very awkward.
Soon after this encounter, the rally ends. There is a Hilton near where I parked and it has a Starbucks. I am very hot and thirsty so I get some iced tea and sit down in the air conditioned cafe to drink it. I watch a string of people coming and going...some checking in...some coming for dinner...some coming for a wedding party.
At that point, I wake up from the dream. I feel uncomfortable and wonder why I feel like a hypocrite.
For my next post in the series, I'll share my reflections on this living dream and what it mirrored for me in relation to my anti-racist journey.