Finding Shelter from the Storm … and Within Ourselves
by Pancho Ramos-Stierle
The time has come to reclaim our full humanity. It’s time to put our principles before profits. It is time to evict the greed and violence in our communities. It is time to arrest the consumerism and materialism that is destroying the biodiversity of our Planet and the spirit of our society.
Some politicians, in their blindness, would like to criminalize hanging out on the sidewalks. And it is blindness because before “cleaning the streets,” as they say, we must clean first our minds, we must clean our consciousness and heal our hearts. How is it possible that they are spending trillions of dollars to bail out the banks and not the people to provide us with homes, jobs, health care and public education? How is it possible that they are spending billions to develop “safer nuclear weapons,” and they are spending trillions to kill brothers and sisters on the other side of the Planet, and not investing that money to eradicate the physical poverty in our communities at “home”?
I’ve been living without a regular shelter for more than 2 years, and I am one of the 12 million “illegal human beings” in this part of the Planet, but I’d rather have no physical shelter than have no spiritual shelter. Because we, brothers and sisters, we can squat an empty building, we can crash on a friend’s sofa, we can sleep under the roof of a church, we can take a nap under the shade of a tree but how are they going to survive the unbearable wet cold of killing human beings? How are they going to overcome the excruciating pain of the fierce storm that destroys families and harasses noble souls for greed and profit?
If you ever cross paths with any of these siblings, please give them some spiritual shelter; please give them a warm blanket and bed of compassion; please offer them a tasty meal of kindness; and an unconditional hot shower and clean clothes of smiles. These people are dying and they don’t know it. Please, love them, make eye contact and don’t ignore their spiritual poverty.
And also let’s be clear: before arresting people without physical homes for sitting on the sidewalks, or for occupying empty houses, let’s arrest our greed and lack of compassion. Before evicting people without physical shelters, let’s evict the horrific violence in our emotions and thoughts.
It is clear to me, that this issue to eradicate the inner violence in our hearts and minds also applies to us. It applies when we are not friendly with our neighbors; when we don’t share our abundance; when we are not willing to take the time to understand each other; when we demonize our opponents; when we repeat the patterns of hierarchies and patriarchy; when we talk about enemies; when we are not willing to break a law that attacks human dignity; when we don’t forgive others and more dramatically, when we don’t forgive ourselves. That is the true homelessness.
Even with all the myopia and the legaloid tricks of the system, we cannot blame the politicians, governments, and corporations. Because the problem lies not in their tyranny and oppression, but in our cooperation.
Our victory is not about putting the right kind of people in power, but putting the right kind of power in people.
We can always create a humane alternative and disobey their rule, but always respecting the humanity of our opponents. Love and respect over fear and disrespect.
And yes brothers and sisters, I know how it feels to have no where to sleep; I know how it feels when a patrol approaches with the intention of a potential harassment in the middle of the night or in the middle of the day because of the way I look; I know how it feels to have no place to leave your sleeping bag, if you are lucky enough to have one; I know how it feels to want to shower after a long sweaty week and have no option but to wait, with our smell, for a generous offer; I know how it feels to look for a place where to be in receptive silence in the middle of a public park; I know how it feels to search for a sign which reads “welcome home” that means it for real; I know how it feels to be rudely awaken in the middle of the night by a fellow human being you’ve never seen before; I know how it feels to have an empty stomach for days.
But all that ain’t nothing in comparison when I don’t have shelter for my own soul. To leave my spirit in the rain, to leave my soul abandoned in a cold night in the middle of the winter, that would be fatal. We cannot allow this to happen, ever.
That’s when I realized that we are not homeless, because home is everywhere we go. We are home-full.
We are the early adopters of a (r)evolution of values. We are the evidence that this system is broken. The evidence that the totalitarianism of corporate capitalism death machine is devastating the Planet and human beings. The ocular demonstration that this system doesn’t work. We are the evidence that we need a new system. WE NEED A NEW SYSTEM!
A system based…
not in scarcity but in abundance.
not in transaction but in trust.
not is consumption but in contribution.
not in isolation but in community.
not in perfection but in wholeness.
not in terror but in fearlessness.
not in violence but in courage, in respect, in love.
Today, 42 years ago, in Memphis, Martin Luther King Jr. left his physical form, his human home, when he was killed by a bullet of war and greed. He stood up for what is right; he spoke of the human greatness; he tried to evict the structural and physical violence of the empire; he tried to delegitimize the militarization of our society; and most importantly, he served the physically oppressed people, the physically poor people with the force of nonviolence, with love in action, with courage in action, with the soul force. This force cannot be stopped by bullets and bombs, cannot be stopped by the police, cannot be stopped by prisons, cannot be stopped by any government, cannot be stopped by “free trades,” cannot be stopped by walls and borders … this force I’m talking about cannot be stopped not even by the most powerful army that has ever existed in the history of humanity!
Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged us to evolve from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. He said that injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere.
Let’s remind ourselves how beautiful we are, how millionaire we are in our social capital, in our spiritual capital, in our natural capital. Let’s acknowledge our real wealth. Let’s remember that the Universe of Love bends towards justice and let’s never forget that home is everywhere we go. Please accept this noncooperation key, this disobedient key, this love key, this creative key, this fearless key, this unstoppable-brave-master key that opens the door of our eternal, infinite and omnipresent home:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Beloved brothers and sisters, this is the key to our freedom.
May all become compassionate, courageous and wise.
I love you all.
April 4, 2010
San Francisco, California, Earth.
Pancho Ramos-Stierle was pursuing a Ph.D. in Astrophysics at the University of California at Berkeley, but when the university announced they were developing “safer nuclear weapons,” he decided to stop cooperating with the institution. His activism and life’s work focus on issues of human rights, environmental sustainability, nonviolence, peacebuilding, urban agriculture, restorative justice, and the development of a vibrant “gift economy.” Pancho was recently arrested while meditating at Occupy Oakland, setting in motion potential deportation proceedings as well as opening up a broader dialogue about issues including immigration and spirituality within the Occupy Movement. This text was delivered as a public talk, and originally appeared on Indybay.