Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cross-currents on the Brooklyn Bridge

This morning, on the return leg of my Brooklyn Bridge walk, I encountered this group heading from Brooklyn towards Manhattan. As I passed them, a man handed me a leaflet explaining that they are members of the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order, walking from Leverett, Massachusetts to Washington, D.C. to advocate "Abolition of Nuclear Weapons; Renunciation of War; Conversion from War to Peace Economy." Admirable goals, all.

Also on the Bridge this morning, going in the opposite direction, were groups of people, many decked out in colorful Tibetan dress, some waving Tibetan flags, and some wearing headbands that said "Free Tibet". When I got back to the Brooklyn side, I found them massing in Cadman Plaza Park for a demonstration.

I wondered if the Tibetans and their fellow Buddhists from Leverett had greeted each other as they passed on the Bridge. I'm sure the Tibetans want to get their freedom by peaceful means. Given the stark parameters of their situation, their only non-suicidal option may be moral suasion. But, in some circumstances, might it be necessary to choose between the ideals of peace and freedom? In the back of my mind, I was hearing the words of Patrick Henry.