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OVERVIEW: Protests usually have a goal, a mission, a primary purpose to make some point. The first protest of the Republican Convention season in New York City was ironic in nature. It protested nothing. It became a standard of all non-protests by protesting the elimination of everything. In an illogical logical way, it sets the stage for what will become a fascinating example of American democracy at work. Find out how the non-protest protest opens the door to why Vigilance and Terrorism exist.

GROUND ZERO PLUS 1083 DAYS--New York, NY, Friday, August 27, 2004--Last night my wife and I walked through the heart of New York City with a group of protestors rallying and shouting for a world of nothing.

It was the first protest of the Republican Convention, a premier protest that serpentined its way across 59th Street, curved around Columbus Circle and headed south down Broadway, past Times Square--the Crossroads of the World--and emptied into Union Square near the East Village where we live.

It was quite by accident we joined the protest march. We were at Central Park watching our favorite non-Olympic sport--men's fast-pitch softball. The game was for the city championship, and we know many of the players and teams as we are dedicated fans.

Last night's protestors were rallying and shouting for a world of nothing
Last night's protestors were rallying and shouting for a world of nothing

If someone were to give me the choice of box seats to a Yankee game or the option of watching championship Central Park softball, I would not be hard pressed to choose. Softball would win.

We decided to walk the 52 blocks from Central Park to our fifth-floor apartment in the East Village. It was one of those beautiful nights with the moon shining bright, a warm breeze flushing through the veins and arteries of the city's streets that form a north-south, east-west grid that tends to funnel the breeze in a chute making it refreshing to walk.

I am not as much of a walker as my wife who enjoys tackling the more than 12,700 miles of sidewalks that comprise New York City's passageways. But the night was beautiful so I agreed to the hike downtown.

Immediately, we saw police lights and noises, a chanting to a drum. As we approached Columbus Circle that rests at the West edge of Central Park and is one of the iconic landmarks of the city, we realized we were approaching a demonstration--the first of the ensuing numerous ones planned to protest everything from breathing to dying.

New York City is the hub of liberalism. Just about anyone who wants to can climb aboard any soap box and rant, rave and wave wildly in hopes of capturing listening ears to gather an audience and disciples who wander like lost souls looking for their other half and leap on one after another--the more radical the better.

In a way, New York City represents democracy at its best, for all voices shout whatever they want with an acceptance that sometimes pushes dangerously on the extreme of Free Speech.

Protest marches reenergize the roots of democracy
Protest marches reenergize the roots of democracy

Perhaps that's why I enjoy entering any protest march. It reenergizes the roots of democracy despite my own political, social, economic, ethnic, sexual, religious and conservative principles. I believe the less tolerant one becomes, the less democratic one also becomes.

It is easy to discount the far left as being absurd, ridiculous, anarchistic, non-productive, sophomoric and counter-productive. However, without the right to rant and rave for what doesn't make sense, those of us who have assumed that our points of view are the right ones have nothing to test our beliefs against. And, without the tension between the extremes, there is no room for evolution, for evolution is always about the pressure that creates something new from the extremes of something old.

Such pressure between poles also creates a more solid center point, for the illogic of "A" versus the logic of "B" often cements the middle ground of "C."

That's why I like joining the most extreme of protests. I savor the right to protest even when I disagree with it.

Last night, however, was one of the more absurd of all protests.

The group marching down the streets of New York City, herded by hundreds of police with nests of plastic handcuffs swinging from their hips ready at any moment to arrest anyone who violated the "peaceful protest" guidelines, chanted for nothing.

Someone said they were protesting against the war, but the chants coming from the group was about the elimination of all leadership in America.

"No more Bush! No more Kerry! No more greedy corporations!"

At first I thought I was hearing them incorrectly, but after a number of blocks I heard exactly what they were chanting. They wanted no leadership.

They were expunging both the Democrats and Republicans, executing the left and the right, denying that any of the parties had anything of benefit to provide the nation.

The 'no protest protest' decimated both sides and chanted "no leadership"

Usually, protests attack one side and support the other. This group was decimating both.

It was a fitting protest in many ways, for it was a "No Protest" march. When you protest against both sides of the coin, there is no coin.

What is left is the vacuum.

Every good anarchist knows that even if you remove "government" as these were suggesting, you have to replace it with something--at the least, as Thomas Paine advocated--self government.

But even that wasn't proposed. The thesis of the group was by removing government of all kinds, you remove war.


I found it humorous as I followed the group down to Union Square. Here was a group--the first of many to come this week--raging over leadership and calling for "no leadership" and not proposing even self-leadership to replace it.

In a sense, it was a "No Protest Protest."

One might say the group was clamoring for a clean slate
One might say the group was clamoring for a clean slate

I came home and thought about the idea of Vigilance. Vigilance is about replacing something negative with something positive. It's about removing Fear and making room for Courage, reducing Intimidation so that Conviction can rise to the surface, and quashing Complacency so that Right Actions for future generations can take hold.

Terrorism is about maintaining Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.

But last night, there was no cry for Terrorism and no cry for Vigilance. There was only the voice of erasing everything.

In a positive sense one might say the group was asking for a clean slate. But, if one were to examine the intent more closely, it was more akin to asking for a dark hole--a place where the gravity is so thick it sucks everything into it.

The 'no protest protest' of last night was a Dark Hole Protest
The 'no protest protest' of last night was a Dark Hole Protest

I realized the protest last night was a Dark Hole Protest, one that asked nothing of anyone except to give up everything.

Obviously, that is absurd, but nevertheless the group chanted the same message--No Leadership! No Future! No! No! No!

Perhaps it was a fitting protest to protest nothing. If there is an ultimate protest, it is the one that protests the right to protest, and in a sense that happened last night. By asking for the end of everything--no leadership--then there would be nothing to rally against. Everything would be the same.

There would be no gravity, no conflict, no yin and yang. There would be no right or wrong, no left or right, no good or bad. There would be nothing.

And so I ended up laughing to myself.

I got to be part of a Nothing Protest.

The first of the Republican Season.

What more fitting start could a Sentinel of Vigilance have than to be part of a Nothing Protest.

Now, I'm ready for anything and counting on nothing.

It seems I've seen the nothing. Now, I'm ready for the anything.

Go To Yesterday's Story: " Screams In The Night Are The Beast Of Terror"


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