We will gather peacefully for silent meditation the morning of July 4th, 2018 from dawn until noon; and a peaceful assembly of free speech and expression from July 1st through the end of Vision Counsel; in the southern Appalachian Mountains. DIRECTIONS TO THE GATHERING ARE HERE (and contain road closure info, and other critical information. This post is updated frequently so check back for the latest.To learn how to get into the gathering without getting a mandatory court appearance ticket, click here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

On Feeling and/or Being Safe

On social media there have been a lot of great discussions about being safe at a gathering and I wanted to take the time to summarize my thoughts on this critical topic.

On feeling safe

First off, I would like to point out that there can be a huge difference between being safe and feeling safe.  For example, I live near an urban creek in San Diego and am part of a collective caring for the creek. Some people sleep and/or live in portions of the creek. In the fourteen + years I have been involved with the creek, I have met men in their forties who are afraid of the energy along the creek and do not feel safe going there. While I have also met plenty of little old ladies who love walking their dogs along the creek and feel it is the best part of our neighborhood. None of  their feelings are right or wrong, they are just feelings.

But what do the statistics tell us?  Less crimes happen at the creek than at the beach. Yet many people feel safe at the beach.

What is going on? Each of us are unique individuals with our own temperament, life experiences, emotional modes of being, and perspectives. No person's feelings are wrong. The emotions we experience are the emotions we experience. No judgements. 

How then do we address individual feelings about safety or the lack there of?  One way is to listen seriously to people when they feel unsafe rather than dismiss their feelings because our own feelings are different.

One way is to make friends with those in our circles who feel unsafe and include them in our communities. Often times people do not feel safe at a gathering is because our cultural norms can be different than the culture in which they have been living.

Many people feel safer when their fears and concerns are truly heard without offering shouldas wouldas couldas. Many people feel safer when they are with friends and loved ones.

One way to help others feel safer is to adjust our behavior and our words to support others. Sure we all have ways of being with our close friends that express our love and caring, but those ways of being in one group of people may invoke fear or anger in another group of people. Be conscious of how your words and actions impact others.

When we gather, we are a gathering of different clans, individuals, and communities.  Using our body and verbal language in a way that helps others feel safe, increases the love and builds connections between more of us. And isn't connecting with all these beautiful bellies one of the reasons we gather?

The other side of this topic is being safe.

Keeping people safe requires all our eyes to be paying attention.

If any of us sees a toddler at the creek without supervision, that's the time to take action and prevent a tragedy. You already know what to do.

If any of us sees a tripping hippie alone in the woods, be a buddy and make friends with this person or at the very least wander after them. Depending on where the gathering is, tripping hippies can get lost in the woods on a cold night and potentially experience hypothermia or worse. Tripping hippies have in the past drowned, injured themselves, and been victims of other people.

If you see someone who is lost, help them get where they are going. If someone is hungry, help them get fed. If someone is thirsty, help them get hydrated. Take the time to welcome people you do not know. Introduce yourself, find common ground, and increase everyone's safety by making new friends, sharing your heart, and building a web of community. Many small acts of kindness create a culture of community and the community we create is what keeps us safe.

If you feel someone is invading your space and your efforts to stop it are not working, go into any  one of the many camps and kitchens and ask a person you feel comfortable with to help you with the situation.  Your words are stronger when your community has your back. We want to have your back, but we need you to let us know when you need our help.

Pay attention to people who are feeling uncomfortable with a situation and ask if there is any help you can provide. Or if you see a conversation happening that seems to be making someone uncomfortable, join the conversation and introduce yourself.  Then be silent and see what's going on. Sometimes, your presence will change the dynamics and make everyone feel safer or potentially even be safer.

As to the individuals, who victimize others intentionally or through a lack of consciousness, I believe you may be dealing with issues in your life that have gotten you to a point where you have lost compassion and empathy. Let us help you with your pain in a constructive manner. Let us help you learn how to be a kind, caring individual who treats every being as the love of your life and for whom you want all good things. We are willing to help, but you must be willing to learn and grow as a human becoming as we travel this journey we call the rainbow gathering.

To learn more about Shanti Sena, read this.

We are our siblings' keepers.

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