The following words were composed in India, thousands of miles, over land and sea, from my home in New York City.
On Thursday, November 17th 2011, my partner, in love and life, was arrested for her participation in New York's national "Day of Action," chartered by the organizers of Occupy Wall St. She was held in custody by the NYPD for 34 hours, neglected of necessary medical treatment, and deprived of food. Furthermore, she was falsely charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and harassment. I will return to her story in time.
As mentioned above, I write you this letter from Asia. Today marks the 80th day of my travels here.
This past September, without the slightest inkling of purpose or pilgrimage, I left home in an act of selfishness. Departing to seek the magnificence of the Himalayas and the beautiful, solitary plainness of Nepali farmland. It was a common escape, the story of many young graduates without work, or meaning, in a depressed economy.
Yet here, in a place where books of earth and ink are still cherished, I seem to have arrived at one of life's strange crossroads of chance; a mysterious consequence of literature, unintended travel, history, and moment.
This morning I watched a gray dawn rise over the Raj Ghat, the final resting place of Mohandas K. Gandhi, and the site of his cremation. Set amidst wavelike, undulating gardens and a collection of lotus trees, a humble platform of black marble memorializes the man who brought Swaraj, independence, to his nation. The father of Satyagraha, non-violent resistance.
Considering the spirit of political dissension now growing within the gardens of my own home, it seemed oddly fitting to find myself here, engrossed in the murky hours of dawn.
Settled at the crown of this black memorial platform, there burns an eternal flame. Processions of school children, smiling, open eyed, dressed in proud uniform, gather tightly before this light. They are here to learn of their county's father, to carry his torch.
Thousands of miles away, within the heart of my own country, this torch has reignited. Reignited a light, patiently awaited by many for a long time.
On the day of her arrest, my partner, a young woman, gentle in size, yet beautiful in character, stood before the gates of the New York Stock Exchange, to sing in a choir of voices, the ageless song of injustice and hope. To lock arms with her fellow countrymen and women, bound to a common fate. To carry on in the great tradition of non-violent demonstration, against inequalities of wealth and rule.
Unwilling to injure the slightest of creatures, man or beast, her cause was that of peace.
Yet, like many of the demonstrators present on that day, she was chastened. Castigated for exercising her first amendment right. Thrown to ground by the neck of her coat, and silenced.
To the servicemen of the NYPD, I ask you for dignity and compassion. Or perhaps, to quote the motto you seem to have forgotten: Courtesy, Professionalism, and Respect.
Yours was a feckless act.
Arresting those engaged in peaceful, civil disobedience is not a feat of heroism, truth or justice. It is an act closer to cowardice. You are prouder than that, and we are not enemies. We are kin. Living history will honor those who deserve it.
Of Commissioner Kelly, and Mayor Bloomberg, I ask you for legitimacy. If not, to quote words just spoken by a demonstrator at UC Davis, you can go. You're not welcome here. You can go.<
There's no place in American Democracy for tactics of intolerance. No place for abridged rights, destroyed books, or midnight raids conducted under the secrecy of night. The rights bestowed upon the American Public by the Constitution, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of public assembly, are rights to be protected and upheld by our elected officials and law. Not bullied, subverted, nor destroyed.
There is no charge deserving of guilt for those devoted to truth and liberty. These principles were the virtues upon which our nation was founded. Without them, we lose both ourselves, and our worth.
To close, this is not the story of one girl, or one boy. This is the story of many, who will continue to gather in the streets of our city, and our country, to demand redress of inequalities of our time. Gross inequalities of wealth and rule, opportunity and accountability, the abuse of coercive power.
For my partner and I, and this coming generation... we are wedded to the ideals of truth, liberty, and compassion. Imperishably committed to non-violent resistance, and the values of goodness and democracy instilled within us by our families, our mothers and fathers, our educators, and the champions of history who've come before.
We will carry the torch.
I am coming home.