Day 23 Kenzan [MA]

This past week – April 4th through today April 10th, from Nashua, NH to Boston, MA has been my first experience walking on a peace walk with Nipponzan Myohoji and also my first time being involved with anything “political” or “social activism”.
On April 6th early am we held a vigil at Raytheon (Integrated Defense Systems) standing on the corner drumming, chanting with signs as people drove into work at Raytheon. I might have applied to Raytheon years ago when I was graduating with my mechanical engineering degree. I definitely did apply to other Defense Contractors and didn’t think anything of it – only thinking it might be an interesting technical challenge and pay well. Thus during the vigil, it was an intense experience for me – I was the one drumming on the corner and I was the one driving into work, thinking “what a bunch of freaks. I’m just trying to do a good job” It is (I guess) ignorance – an inability to see the big picture, the effect on the world, self-centeredness. But how to see the “big picture” if one doesn’t? I want to and I still don’t.
The next evening in North Andover, MA, Bruce Gagnon from Bath, Maine spoke. The thing that sticks in my mind – He told that when he first moved to Maine, a fellow activist said no one there was interested in talking about nuclear disarmament. Bruce asked what are they interested in talking about and the activist didn’t know. So Bruce listened to what people were talking about and heard they were talking about jobs – so he talked about jobs – what jobs created by converting defense contractors to other industries – e.g. mass transit. And now people are talking about the economy, so he talks about the economic impact of war, etc. This impressed me very much – meeting people where they are.
Most impressive of all to me is the generosity of people everywhere we go – churches and individual homes allowing us to stay overnight or providing food or holding potlucks when we arrive. Generous welcomes everywhere.
The chanting and walking is a wonderful practice. Walking through areas where I used to live I had the sensation that it was purifying my past. Perhaps more past than just “mine”. On our rest day yesterday, I looked forward to again coming home to the chanting.
I have deep respect and admiration for Brother Kato and Sister Clare and all the walkers. With gratitude, Kenzan 4/10/2010

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