If you want to be a rebel, be kind

Pancho Ramos-Stierle’s words, actions and state-of-being have touched my heart. I recently read an interview in which Pancho shared his thoughts on Occupy Oakland and his arrest. The interview left me hopeful, and pushed me to deepen my understanding and practice of love and non-violence.

Here is a short excerpt:

“On Mondays we practice silence, and the police officer who arrested us thought that we were deaf because we were not speaking. So he got a notebook and a pen. It was very considerate of him, and I could feel his energy shift a little, and so when he gave me the notebook I wrote, “On Mondays, I practice silence, but I would like you to hear that I love you.” When he read that, he had this big smile and looked me in the eye and he said, “Thank you. But, well, if you don’t move, you’re going to be arrested. Are you moving or not?” So I wrote back, “I am meditating.” He said, “OK, arrest them one by one.”

And here is a short excerpt from another article on Pancho in prison:

“As Pancho is shackled up in solitary confinement, he creates a makeshift cushion with his shoes and starts meditating.  The guards themselves start taking photos to post on their Facebook walls!  Moved by his equipoise under conditions of extreme stress, some guards even inquire about the specifics of meditation.  One of them befriends him and gifts him an extra “package” — a toothbrush, a toothpaste, a piece of paper and a pen.  Pancho then cleans up his cell of all the litter, toilet paper and other waste; on the piece of paper he writes, “Smile.  You’ve just been tagged with an anonymous act of kindness!”, and leaves that extra toothpaste and toothbrush next to it.  “I wanted to beautify the cell for the next person after me,” he would later say.  Jails didn’t have any vegetarian food, so he smilingly fasted — having two oranges in four days.  He gifts away his ham sandwiches to other inmates, and connects with them in the spirit of generosity too.  In transit, when he has more contact with other prisoners, he educates them about their rights.  With the ICE agent who shackles him, he smilingly says, “Sister, your soul is too beautiful to be doing this kind of work.”  To which she smiled back and responded, “Thank you.””

I hope you read both the interview of and the article on Pancho. But remember, more important than reading Pancho is being Pancho: Serve, Reflect, Love.

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About Ranjodh Singh
I'm currently an Ally in the Public Allies New York Apprenticeship (www.publicallies.org). Through the apprenticeship, I'm partnered with NYCRx (www.nyxrc.org), a nonprofit organization that improves the health of New Yorkers using public health interventions. I'm excited to continue serving, but doing so closer to health and medicine. I'm also enjoying NYC, which I find to be an enriching environment.

One Response to If you want to be a rebel, be kind

  1. Pingback: Power of silence: Reflection on The Paradox of Our Age « Look, Listen and Learn

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