Making Friends and Influencing People
by Michael McCarthy
A fun-filled week in Michigan, with the Kalamazoo Activists preceded my adventure with the United States Criminal Justice System. A week spent in the town that serves as a base for the companies Upjohn Pharmacia/Monsanto, leaders in Bio-technologies, a town with its vibrant Community Gardens projects adding to the rising consciousness visible throughout the town with people of all ages joining together with efforts to educate and participate in the transformation towards a sustainable culture. I had been on the train for a day, traveling across the country to Portland, Oregon, chatting with other passengers about current social and ecological issues, when the train stopped somewhere in Montana. Now, a cage or two may have been rattled, as not all participants in the conversation were in alignment with some of the subject matter. Information regarding the Hemp Industry, Organic Farming, the Raw Food Diet, Cob Housing, Bio-technologies, Slavery, Deep Ecology, Medical Marijuana, mass-consumption and over population etc. was a challenge for some. So there was a "buzz" in the air when the Border Patrol officer walked into the carriage and headed directly to me and asked to check my ID. Whoops! I had violated my immigration status and would have to be escorted off the train. Handcuffed and relieved of my bags, i was driven to the local county jail, fingerprinted, photographed and locked in a cell. Inside one of my bags i carried a supply of clean spring water and organic food. When asked if i may consume some of my own supplies i was denied and the option of a less pure water source was offered. I politely declined, stating my preference for clean personal and planetary health.
After some hours i was moved elsewhere in the building to a large holding cell with approximately twenty other men. When food was served as the evening meal i asked if it were possible to be given some of my own food as i wished to maintain a diet of clean, uncooked, organic foods, once again for personal and planetary health and honoring my spiritual practice, respect for all creation. My request was, once again, denied and so i rested without food or water for my first night of incarceration somewhere in Montana. Early the next morning i was driven, in chains, in a van a few hundred miles south. Along the way my request for clean food and water continued to be denied, so i just enjoyed the view as we passed through memorable landscapes of barren, over grazed pasture and enormous mono crop farms and dry river beds. It was mid June and snow was falling. Strange. After a couple of vehicle transfers i arrived, with fellow prisoners at Twin Falls, Idaho, mid-afternoon on the second day of my altered travel plan. I was placed in a large cell with approximately twenty five Gentlemen from Mexico, all due to be deported. I learned much about their lives of hard work and struggle and shared with them information on nutritional, social justice and ecological issues. They all seemed enthusiastic as we discussed those issues that concerned all of us and a sense of community grew between us. I politely declined the meals when offered and continued to express my desire to maintain my regime of clean food and water. Denied. When quiet, gentle sitting Yoga asana's and meditation served as good nutrition and the rest of the day and second night passed peacefully.
Early the next morning we where all chained in two's to be driven to another holding area to await transportation by aircraft to a larger prison in Denver, Colorado. So began my third day without food or water. The feeling of calm enhanced by my meditation enabled me to receive, if not food and water, respectful resistance from my captors. Just following orders they were. In keeping with tradition i continued to exclude myself from the offered airline meal. The aircraft was full of other "convicts", one of many jets crisscrossing the country daily, delivering its human cargo to points along the way as we were all processed through the system. After a short flight over our sensitive and life supporting planet, we landed in Denver and still in chains, we were delivered to a prison a short distance from the end of the runway. Over a few hours my fellow travelers and myself were "checked in" to our new home. At the medical stage of the process i respectfully declined the insistence that i have my blood drawn to be examined for tuberculosis. As a result, that night i was separated from the main prison population and kept inside a secure cell in the medical wing. Once again my polite routine request for clean food and water continued to be denied and so i completed my third day of a peaceful diet of air. On the morning of the fourth day, one of my Prison Officer brothers came to my cell and requested i dress in the orange uniform he offered me, prison policy demanded i conform. I respectfully explained to him that as well as only allowing clean food and water to enter into my body, i refused to allow unnatural, synthetic clothing to touch my body. Out of respect for all of creation. I suggested a compromise, of wearing the bright orange polyester prison uniform over my hemp clothing. Compromise denied. A short time passed and the Deputy Supervisor met with my continued polite but, willing to compromise out or respect for security, "bad guys" in orange concerns........No! Then the third Officer brother, the Big Boss, attended me. His request and my in depth response of spiritual, personal and planet health based refusal and respect for security compromise was videotaped. Staff training i thought. On finishing my speech to camera and a gathering crowd of Officers, the Big Boss retreated and my cell door was closed.
I returned to sitting on my bed, still dressed in my minimal impact eco-friendly attire. Suddenly, the door burst open and a five person team, heavily armored, in full face, darkened visor helmets, rushed in. They swiftly crushed me beneath a large shield and roughly dragged me to the floor. Pinning me down, they stripped me naked, dressed me in a bright orange polyester prison uniform and wrapped me tightly in chains. They then lifted me to my feet to face a crowd of Prison Officers and dragged me off down corridors to the segregation/punishment cells. There, i was deposited in a cell, de-chained and as one by one, the team retreated, backing out, the cell door was slammed shut and locked. The whole surprising event was videotaped and throughout the encounter i offered no resistance and only showered blessings and forgiveness on my "just following orders" fellow living organisms. Amongst the blessings i slipped in web addresses such as indymedia.org and various raw food "websights" and spoke a few prayers for all our sakes. As soon as the door was closed, i stood up and gently removed the toxic uniform and stood naked and clean, politely declaring to the officer watching through the viewing window in the cell door, that i will continue to refuse to allow unnatural fibers to touch my skin. With my primal juices of integrity flowing i was definitely working up an appetite, but for the rest of the day i remained naked without clean food or water.
That evening i was visited by the Prison Doctor. Preferring to remain outside my cell, he instructed me to stick my limbs, one at a time, through the hatch in the door for his examination. He was unsympathetic to my dietary needs and was unschooled in contemporary nutritional knowledge and insisted i accept the offered alternative. No way brother doc! A telephone had been passed through the hatch and i was able to communicate my plight with my Lawyer in New York, my Doctor in Oregon and an Essene Minister in Arizona. The Forces of Good where gathering strength. I continued to share nutritional and planet ecology knowledge with my sister and brother captors in conversations held through the hatch in my cell door. They all revealed their concerns and appreciated the sharing. Each of them had personal health concerns, as did their family and friends, all of which we discussed. The current culture of mass-consumption, of unsustainability and unhealthy lifestyles affects us all and a concern for it unites us all. That evening i was given a cup of distilled water from a sealed three litre plastic container, my first in four days, kindly delivered by one of the concerned sister Officers. The remaining water was kept out of reach on a table just outside my cell door. So ended my forth day of incarceration.
The next day i was given the container of remaining distilled water. So, for the next four days i remained naked in my cell, fully committed to my path of respect for a clean life and planet. I rationed the water over the four days, unsure if i would be given more. I continued with my polite request for organic raw food but that request remained denied. During this time of deep sitting meditation and sleep, i came to realize that maybe i wouldn't be given more clean water or any organic food. Would i maintain my stance? Yes. Even if faced with death? Yes. I had faced it many times before during a lifetime of adventure. Everyday is only one day extra. Collectively, we are all unconsciously committing mass suicide. Ecosystems are collapsing around us. Our culture disregards its impact on a planet that demands we live in alignment with ecological law. A stand has to be made. We have to change and realize that we are nature behaving in an unnatural way, and we cannot buy our way out of extinction.
For the next few days, i remained naked, locked inside my small cell. I filled the passing time with meditation, prayer, gentle yoga and sleep. Occasionally i would sip on my slowly shrinking water supply. The standard prison food would be placed in the door hatch at mealtimes and left there for an hour to tempt me. In my eyes and in the eyes of the rest of the natural world, this is not real food, it's poison. Think about it. I remained untempted. On the seventh day, my cell door was opened and i was informed that i was to be released, and that i must dress in my uniform so that the release process could begin. Of course, "Only in natural fibers will i be clothed", remained the anthem for the day, so my traveling wardrobe was delivered to me and "naked guy" became once again a "happy hempster". I was processed to freedom and met with only approving respect, from my once captors now friends, for my stubborn but polite insistence of integrity without compromise. They all got it. We are all in this together. As we all work towards deconstructing this unsustainable paradigm that we have become imprisoned in, we will together, reconstruct a culture of sustainability that will include all of life. Let wildness return and the universal joy for this gift of life rule the day.
A taxi outside the prison took me to a greyhound bus. The taxi driver was a former soldier with the Ethiopian Army and had served in the war against Eritrea in the mid 1980's. At the same time i had been helping the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front in its struggle for survival against mighty forces, the Ethiopian Army and Air force, the largest in Africa at that time. We spoke as brothers, not as enemies created by economic foreign policies, the catalyst for all war. Another two days' journey on the bus with bottled water, as it would have been unwise to break my air and water fast with the heavy nuts and seeds that i carried to Portland, Oregon. I needed soft fruit and there was no organic food along the way. At last, arriving in Portland, i was able to keep my appointment of speaking, somewhat drained, at the Raw and Living Foods Festival.
There i was met not only by an abundance of ripe organic fruits and vegetables but by a group of loving sisters and brothers who are joining forces to share and educate the world with our message as we move forward in peace, returning to our natural and only truly sustainable diet. In our dealings with those forces that oppose us, we achieve so much more if our strength is coupled with non-judgment and forgiveness. That our resistance is nonviolent and inclusive of all. We must not shrink to make others feel at ease. Doing so only serves to fuel the illusion of this "good life". The truth must penetrate the blindness, but only joy and cheerfulness combined with non-judgment and forgiveness will oppose the anger and resistance felt by nonaligned others. Then slowly, one by one, they will then surely join with us, feeling welcomed and included, to build a sustainable culture and future. We have no enemies, only undeclared friends.
My experience in the hands of the Criminal Justice System reminds me that as a collective culture of mass consumption and control we have radically separated ourselves from nature and have in fact "imprisoned" it. Nature must behave and we will punish it further if it does not conform to our ideals. As its"captors", we too are all doing time in the prison that our culture has become. But as we make our way to freedom along the long corridors of realization, we will emerge into the light of a culture radically different from the present. A paradigm worth living in. So let us begin, let the healing begin within. Tread lightly on this planet and may a peaceful, sustainable culture be with us all. One Love. As ever, Michael McCarthy "The Raw Yogi"
P.S. Upon my release, i was informed that i would have to remain in the US until my trial, which will be held at some place and time, as yet undisclosed, during the next eight months. My passport has been retained by the authorities so i am unable to legally leave the country. My intention had been to return to Europe after speaking in Portland. So now, unable to work legally, i am free to travel the country. I am available to speak to people wherever required, to help our culture in its transition to realization. All i require is organic food, a bus or train ticket and an occasional phone card. So, lets have fun. Real fun! Biography available upon request.