I had my “Citizen Journalist” cap and T-shirt on and I was in the middle of it—in the middle of Times Square—excited… and wondering what next… and giddy with a sense of power in numbers and power in the justice of a cause—something I hadn’t felt big-time since the 60s and 70s, and hadn’t felt little-time since the march against starting the war on Iraq (and we all know how that went!)… and there he was… standing there listening and observing like everyone else, but giving off these vibes like he was taking it all in… like he’d seen it a million times before in a million different places… and it was good, and, somehow, he was blessing it!
I didn’t recognize him at first, I say. He didn’t look like blue-eyed, brown-haired Jeffrey Hunter in the “King of Kings” (that I’d seen as a teen), and he didn’t look like the gentle, brown-haired hippie with the white peasant shirt and burnt-sienna robe and the beatific smile; not that guy with the throbbing blood-red Valentine’s heart in the middle of his peasant shirt (that some of my relatives used to hang on their walls).
No! Fact is…, he was kind of Semitic looking, with a somewhat aquiline nose, and brown skin, slightly built—kind of a cross between an old-time Jew and a modern-day Palestinian: a 30ish Woody Alan with a bit of Yasser Arafat! He was wearing a nondescript sport jacket, a white shirt, no tie, and laced up old-fashioned sandals.
I approached with some apprehension. “It’s you?” I asked.
He nodded. “You were expecting the Lord of Hosts?”
“What… what are you doing here?”
“So… where else should I be… at a time like this…?”
“You’re… you’re one of us? You’re on our side?”
“The question is… to paraphrase Abraham—“
“No!… Mary Todd’s! Your Abraham… your Lincoln. … The question is: Are you on myside?”
“I think we are. … I mean, it’s multi-faceted, you know. There’s so many things wrong! It all seems to be culminating now. The environment, the climate, geophysical changes, economic collapse. …”
“It’s a megillah–that’s for sure!”
“The damn MSM… they keep saying… we’ve got to define what we want, you know. They’re bitchin’ and whining: What’s the program? What do the protestors want? But… there are so many things! If we start putting it down on paper—they’re going to get their hired media guns to tear us apart, point by point. They’ll throw money at their hired guns. … If some of us get our heads above the crowd, if we speak out and others start listening and nodding their heads—then, the media will anoint them “leaders” and then the hired guns will go after the leaders. So… it’s all of that! That’s what the problem is! It’s the way money works in this world—in the world they’ve created. It’s about money as power! It’s about their raping the planet and then their throwing money around to hire the guns and the soldiers and the media freaks… and the whores and the pimps taking the money and stuffing their faces while the people are eating the scraps left over after the boots have stomped through the fields.”
“Sure… sure… it’s an old story. Look, why do you think I did what I did? You think it was easy? You think I wasn’t scared? You think I wasn’t shaking that time in Gethsemane? I was shaking, I tell you… I was scared! … But… I couldn’t stand it. … The money-changers… in the Temple! In God’s house! Herod’s eating peacocks’ balls—like his Roman over-lords—and the people are dying of leprosy! We’ve got money for soldiers all over the place, money for tribute… but no money for doctors! I couldn’t take it any more! I looked around… I couldn’t take it anymore!”
“You went among the lepers. …”
“I broke bread with them! Just like Buddha! You know the story of Buddha? He broke bread with the lepers… and while they were eating, a leper’s thumb fell off! And Buddha brushed it away… just brushed it away… just kept eating. … You know why? You know why?”
“He didn’t want to embarrass the leper! What a mensch! Such a mensch!”
“You admire Buddha?”
“Of course! Courage… humanity… vision! What’s not to like?”
“The MSM… they make it seem like… you guys… like you’re all in your own little worlds. The churches, the temples, the mosques, the shrines, the religious wars—“
“Screw the MSM! Screw the religious wars! You got this one little planet! You got this one little marble—and marvel—of a planet! That’s all you’ve got! That’s all you’re going to get! You’ve been raping it for centuries! Raping and pillaging and slaughtering your own kind and every other kind! When will you grow up? When will this idiot human race grow up?”
“That’s what it’s about, you see. That’s what we’re trying to do, why we’re here! We’re trying to grow up! This Globalization thing. … The bankers and the corporations and the speculators and the celebrities—they all wanted it to line their pockets better. Being millionaires wasn’t good enough. They wanted to be billionaires! Being billionaires wasn’t good enough—they wanted to be multi-billionaires! And, meantime, they’re taking more and more from everyone else. They’re plundering and they’re raping and they’re slaughtering… and lining their pockets. Eating peacocks’ balls… and lining their pockets! They don’t know when to quit! They don’t know where to draw the line!”
“They never do!”
“And this globalization thing—it was all for their benefit… only… there was another side to it. That’s what we understand now. That we can talk to people on the other side of the world… and they’re just like us! They’re also sick of this crap! They don’t want to kill and die for the top 1 percent—for people who don’t give a damn about them! People who turn them against those who are like them! We’re all in it together! We can understand that now!”
“’Suffer the little children to come unto me,’” I said. I didn’t say, ‘Let only the rich kids come to me.’ That’s the message, you see. Equality! Be as a little child. Believe you can create the world anew. And you will!”
“I think so… I hope so… but. …”
He understood. I didn’t have to say anything else. I had never really needed to say anything… but he had let me speak so as to know myself. … His eyes were kind, and old, and wise, and a tear coursed down his cheek from one of them. “It’s going to be hard,” he said softly. … “The Centurions don’t give up without a fight. The Pharisees and the Sadducees don’t give up… without a fight.”
“A kind of crucifixion. … Is that what you mean?”
“In a manner of speaking. … One way or another. … You’ll have to go through it. …”
“And then?” He looked around at the crowd that kept multiplying, multiplying—like the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. “What else?” he said. … “You become God-realized! … Resurrection,” he said. … “And…, a new beginning. …”
Gary Corseri’s articles and poems have appeared at L.A. (and Hollywood–) Progressive, at CounterPunch and hundreds of other venues. He has published novels and collections of poetry, has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum, and has had his dramas produced on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere. He has been a professor in the U.S. and Japan and can be contacted at [email protected] or [email protected].