I told you about the Council of All Beings in Montpelier, Vermont. Here is the latest thing they have been up to:
January 3, 2012
Hello All Beings,
I arrived in the Capitol building at 9:45 AM today with “head in hand” (full-head mask) of Polar Bear, more or less unnoticed as I made my way to the public gallery of the House chambers. I seated myself as the only member of the public in the gallery (other than various media people) and proceeded to don my mask with the now familiar “screw on” technique I learned when I first tried it on for size in Eleanor’s kitchen.
I sat there observing the beehive-like activity below as House members buzzed about confirming with this colleague or that follow committee member, house pages running here and there in their smart navy blue blazers delivering last-minute important messages as more and more House members began filtering into the room. Photographers mixed freely around the room, rudely poking their cameras in various members’ faces to get a quick “action shot” of last-minute words spoken quickly between colleagues, often in hushed tones. The overall atmosphere was jovial, much like any other happy reunion of colleagues who had shared so much in the immediate past and had bonded often in spite of intense political differences.
No one seemed to cast an eye up to the gallery, so I began to feel quite at home inside my polar bear head as I peeked out the tiny eye holes from the consciousness of an endangered polar bear watching the human community going about its business. Then I began to notice a few glances up in my direction as more and more members took their appointed seats, leaning over for a moment and nodding in my direction as they whispered something to their most immediate colleague. I was being noticed, and my being noticed began to move through the House members’ ranks almost without my awareness.
As the clock hands neared 10:00 AM in marched eight nicely dressed fourth graders followed by their teacher, headed for the plush straight chairs in a line across the front of the chambers, rehearsed and well prepared to sing a patriotic song at the beginning of the session. The very first little girl looked up, and with both surprise and excitement on her face, pointed enthusiastically and almost shouted, “Wow! Look up there!” the second girl in line let out a loud, “Cool!” The cat was out of the bag! Well, you know what I mean.
Soon after the four girls and four boys had taken their seats a voice sounded in my right ear. (Actually, with no ear holes at all, I simply became aware of a quiet voice immediately to my right saying, “Pardon me.”) As quickly as possible I unscrewed my head (mask) in order to communicate with her. She explained that she was sent by the children to find out what I was doing here. I said simply that I am a member of the Vermont Council of All Beings and over the last forty years of observing the increasing degradation of our beautiful blue planet, I have also observed the distinct lack of political will in all of the world’s political organizations to do enough to make a difference, and as more and more species, such as the polar bear, become extinct or are headed toward extinction, I, as a member of the human species, applying cold clear logic, cannot escape the fact that we are on that growing list of species headed toward extinction.
“And further,” I continued, “ human political bodies seem to convene each year as if ‘business as usual’ will somehow set things right. Thus, to cope with my growing frustration I came to appear as Polar Bear to remind all here today that every decision made in these chambers will have an impact on the failing health of our home, the great blue planet earth—either for good or for ill. I hope for the good. Therefore I am here today.” She thanked me and returned to tell the children.
Hardly had I screwed my head back on and settled in again to await the gaveling in of the 2012 session when another quiet voice directly to my right inquired if she might talk with me. Again, in order to communicate freely I extricated myself from my paper Mache mask and found myself reiterating what I had just said, this time to an interested Times Argus reporter. Having received from me the information she sought, she thanked me and left me alone.
At that point Speaker Chap Smith convened the session, and I sat back to listen. Just ten minutes into the session, however, I felt a firm tap on my left shoulder and again removed my mask. This time I found myself looking eye-to-eye at an armed security guard, who asked me to remain unmasked and added that I was welcome to stay in the gallery but I must not put on the mask. I nodded my acquiescence and sat through the remaining session imagining this gallery filled with an assembly of deer, fox, snake, frog, coyote, chipmunk, and other friends.
The capitol building he was referring to was the State Capitol of Vermont. After Victor did this, other people decided to do the same today for the State of the State address. There was going to be a woman with a big elephant shawl, a woman with a wolf mask, and her daughter with an elk mask. I am waiting to hear how that went.
Here is someone’s response to Victor’s efforts:
Delightful account by Victor. Thank you for your courage and dedication. I believe the teacher and students “got it”. As for the legislature…you merely frightened them and in their fear they did what they only know how to do…eliminate the perception of your presence for their comfort’s sake. However, you were indeed present and your voice was heard.
The Tao – 18th Verse -
When the greatness of the Tao is present,
action arises from one’s own heart.
When the greatness of the Tao is absent,
action comes from the rules
of “kindness and justice.”
If you need rules to be kind and just,
if you act virtuous,
this is a sure sign that virtue is absent.
Thus we see the great hypocrisy.
When kinship falls into discord,
piety and rites of devotion arise.
When the country falls into chaos,
official loyalists will appear;
patriotism is born.
In infinite gratitude,