The Awkward Protester.

Via John Dalton
on Nov 1, 2011
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 Where I get a bit twitchy and pre-occupied with purpose.

It’s a blowy Monday in Dublin and I’m feeling self-conscious. I breezed in on my bicycle, now I’m holding it like a security blanket. I’m trying to look like I belong, but I don’t know anyone here and could be mistaken for just another onlooker, of which there are many.

I remember I’ve brought my camera with me. I snap away purposefully. The little tents look out of place on the concrete forecourt, like something a child, determined to go camping in the back garden, would put together.

There are handmade posters taped about the place too. Not Disney princesses or Winnie the pooh, but drawings of evil bankers and strangled economies and Irish flags.

The Occupy movement came to Dublin at the weekend and I’ve come down to take part but so far I’m having trouble getting into the swing of things. I don’t really know what I thought it would be like, more civil rights chic and less Glastonbury campsite, I suppose.

In my book, Maya Noise, I describe how I became enlightened in 1996 and how part of that realisation was about taking responsibility for everything in my reality, regardless of whether I knew how to change it or not. That included politics and business, both of which didn’t have much realness or heart or beauty, not compared to laughter, or sunshine, or dust swirls and the like. So I left politics and business on the periphery and focused on the good.

Then the social media phenomenon came along and seeped through the membrane between my reality and the next person’s, so that real communication, unfiltered and unmolded, could happen.

And now here I am with a bunch of people I don’t know personally, but because they’re here I know share a common recognition that things need to change. This is not just trendy crowd surfing. I’ve done my research. I’ve read and read and read, and the more I’ve read, the more there is to read and, probably like many people, I’ve come to the conclusion that all my research hasn’t changed my gut feeling that I sum up in simple phrases like, “It’s just not right.”

Take the situation here in Ireland. I don’t know all the facts, and I’m not an economist, but I don’t have to be to know that there’s something very wrong with our banks behaving criminally and getting away with it, then being bailed out by the government, then having your average Irish person shouldering the burden. That’s just not right.

And I’m not saying your average Irish person wasn’t complicit in the Celtic tiger biting them in their own arse. When I returned to live in Ireland five years ago, it was full of self-admiring amateur property developers, many of whom are on the dole now. I think your average Irish person would now admit that their aspirations to own an investment property in Estonia were a little excessive. It’s not talked about much now, like a drunken table top dance at a wedding, there’s a general feeling of, “I’m not proud of it, but hey, I was drunk.”

And while your average Irish person got drunk on the wave of money washing through the country, what was going on below the surface went unnoticed. When the tide finally went out they were left on the jagged rocks of a shockingly corrupt banking system that the government has been ineffectual to do anything about. There have been two elections in the last five years here, yet nothing has changed. Unemployment is high, negative equity is even higher with many people trapped in homes that were thrown up in the boom years and are now worth a quarter of the huge mortgage they are left to be pay. No bailouts for them. Meanwhile the good old boys of our banking elite play hide and go seek with their millions, all the while hysterically demanding bailouts for their institutions in order to “save the county from financial catastrophe.” And they get them! Like I said, it’s just wrong.

My fellow protestors have started chanting. One person leads the refrain and the crowd repeat it in a sort of human megaphone.

“We’re having a meeting…”


“At two o’clock.”


“If anyone would like to volunteer…”


It reminds me a bit too much of Catholic mass so I take it as my cue to leave. I haven’t been here that long but I will return again often. I will add my photos to the stream. I will “Like,” and tweet, and share, and promote, and generally take my place with the millions of other strangers who I would probably disagree with about many things except one; that things can be better, kinder, softer, more caring and more loving.

If this article resonates with you please share it with your friends, real and virtual.


About John Dalton

Born in the craggy foothills of suburban Dublin John Dalton staggered along the spiritual path until he got himself enlightened in 1996. Deciding against a career as a celebrity guru he became a cranio sacral therapist instead. His first book Why Do We Get Sick? Why Do We Get Better? A Wellness Detective Manual is an undo-it-yourself book for sickness and unhappiness and is popular with people of all ages. His latest book Maya Noise describes what happens after enlightenment and what it's like to live an ordinary life with extraordinary knowledge. It reads like The Power of Now meets Pulp fiction and has become a firm favorite with spiritual teachers and gurus the world over. Passionate about cranio sacral therapy he oversees a project called Open Source Cranio which aims to provide free online cranio sacral training resources for people in developing countries. He lives in Dublin, Ireland with his wife and smiles a lot when cycling. You can see all of his Elephant Journal articles here. He also tweets and has recently discovered talking about himself in the third person is disturbingly easy.


10 Responses to “The Awkward Protester.”

  1. Ben_Ralston says:

    Yeah, I feel pretty much exactly what you describe. It's just not right. I hope that the movement grows and grows, and eventually effects some genuine change in our society. We'll see…

  2. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Dear Awkward,

    Wonderful letter. I was smiling all the way through.

    I think you (almost) know a bit more about economics than you realize. You contemplate why “the government has been ineffectual to do anything about” the corrupt banking system.

    I don’t imagine there are too many libertarian economists/historians here on Ele, so I’ll represent them. I think you almost answered your own question:

    "there’s something very wrong with our banks behaving criminally and getting away with it, then being bailed out by the government, then having your average Irish person shouldering the burden. That’s just not right.”

    Spoken like a true libertarian! (Bet you’ve never been called that before. Or have you?) Anyway, you’re on the verge right there of putting government and modern banking into a single whole. And there’s your answer. Why would government do anything about the banking system when government and the banking system are two sides of the same, ahem, coin?

  3. John_Dalton says:

    I think it's effecting a change already Ben, if only in visibility as yet.

    Like the first soldiers who stuck their heads above the trenches at Christmas in 1914, during world war I, seeing how many other people agree with your perspective can be powerful; in their case it led to the unofficial Christmas ceasefires.

    My wish is that something just as inspiring will come from the global Occupy movement.

  4. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Anyone who may be looking in on this… I recommend John’s book: Maya Noise. If you have a kindle it is dirt cheap. Like about a bottle of coke. I’m about one third through.

    Like with your article, John, I started out smiling and kept smiling for many pages. But then it got even better and I stopped smiling.

    One reason I’m a libertarian is because it’s the most pacifistic political philosophy this side of actual pacifism. And since in public I advocate for something good for the world rather than just good for myself, I advocate libertarianism.

    Speaking of which, I didn’t smile through your short chapter on WAR. But I was riveted. I glean this from WAR.

    You have a definition much like mine: War is an idea, the idea that “I am right, you are wrong.” And it covers the full spectrum of human action, from those large scale encounters that we actually call war, all the down to two-person encounters composed of nothing but irritation. It’s all war and it’s all the same.

    On that happy note, Good day to you all!

  5. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Sure thing. I only wrote it as I saw it. Btw, I marked a few typos while I was reading. Let me know if you want them.

    Best to you and yours!

    Mark L

  6. John_Dalton says:

    Yes, send the typos please. Through the contact form on the website.

  7. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Sorry, man. You have to understand, for someone who uses the computer a lot, I am incredibly inept. Anyway, I've just spent a fair amount of time going through all parts of and I just can't find a contact form. Tell you what. I've already written the message. I'll cut and past it here. I don't really want to make typos public, but heck, there are worse things than that which people make public.

    Anyone reading this, the following typos absolutely do NOT indicate anything negative about Maya Noise. I find typos and much worse in just about every book I read.

    Anyway, John, here's my cut n paste:

    (Whoops, too long. I'll add it to an additional 'reply')

  8. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Isn’t kindle great? I think I can give you exact locations.

    First, from 428-436 were 3 “mediation”s that for the life of me, unless I’m seriously misreading, should be “meditation”s. Also one “mediate” that should be a “meditate.” Super easy typo to make! In fact, I bet there’s an outside chance you still don’t see it. If so, look again. The typos have only one ‘t’.

    Funny how it almost works. I mean, “mediation” could certainly be considered part of cranio sacral training, couldn’t it? In fact, maybe even the essence.

    933: “might be part my question” (missing an ‘of’ unless that’s a feature of Irish English I don’t know.)

    2141: “She goes on to tells me” (I KNOW that’s not Irish English! Or any other variety)

    That’s it. Again, fantastic book. Hope there’s a surprising explosion of sales in your future!

    Mark L

  9. John_Dalton says:

    Thanks for that Mark.
    You had me worried that the contact form might have disappeared or something like that but no, there it is in the left hand menu, bottom link.