GHOSTING: A POWERFUL WITNESS
By madis senner
"Ghosting" is a powerful, simple, and nonviolent form of witness. To ghost is to silently walk around with a placard. It does not take a lot of organization or people, it can be spontaneous, and it can be done to fit one's schedule. Ghosting may be directed at a variety of targets or issues. It is a form of symbolic speech, and as such is within our rights as citizens of the USA. The tradition of ghosting began as an anti-establishment movement with a strong spiritual connection. It is helpful to maintain a contemplative or meditative state as you walk.
BASIC HOW-TO’S OF GHOSTING
Once you have decided your target area, recruit some others to ghost with you. We suggest that only two go at a time, and that you always go in pairs. Jesus sent disciples out two by two, and unless you know something Jesus didn’t, we suggest you follow suit. (Actually, the presence of a partner can be critical in providing support and protection should you be confronted.) Design your placards so that the messages are complementary. One might contain a quotation, the other facts or figures. (See below for slogans we used in our ghosting at the Fed.) Once you have paired off, and selected the day of the week each pair will be ghosting, let the pairs decide for themselves what time they want to protest. Meet at some planned upon spot other than your target location, and go to the ghosting site together. BE GHOST-LIKE WHEN GOING TO AND LEAVING YOUR GHOSTING SITE--that is, come and go quickly and do not dwell. You want to create the impression that you disappear just as quickly you appeared out of nowhere! It’s actually better if the timing is irregular (sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, etc.) No one will know quite when to expect you, or even whether to expect you. We were frequently asked how long we planned to continue our protest, and, of course, we did not give an answer; nothing is more annoying than an uncontrolled, unpredictable demonstration at your doorstep. Its very nature forces the powers that be to pay attention. We are not an unruly mob to be contained and ignored issue-wise. We are serious, concerned, respectful citizens exercising our right of free speech. …but we don’t speak.
GHOST to bring about
1. No Talking.
Silence is key! For logistical reasons, you may need to communicate with your partner from time to time. Other than that, however, let your sign speak for you. Your strength is in your message, but also in your mystery. You appear out of nowhere. Your target only sees you and your placard and wonders who you are and with whom you are affiliated (placards should not bear the name of any organization or individual, unless that individual is quoted). By being quiet and peaceful you do not exhibit any of the signs so often associated with protesters (shouting, chanting and possibly even violence). You are there one moment and gone the next. You are an Enigma to your target. This is really disconcerting. When we started ghosting the Federal Reserve Building at 33 Liberty Street in Lower Manhattan in May 2001, there were no guards outside of the building and no city police in sight. By the time we got around the building once, all three entrances were flanked by the Fed's own force. There were guys in suits, not to mention the NYPD. We were followed, questioned and even photographed by men in suits pretending to be photographing that dark cavern of Liberty Street.
REPEAT: TALK TO NO ONE!Even if someone appears to be friendly ignore them! Chances are they are trying to garner information. Remember your silence is your strength. Keep the mystery.
Placards--one scripture, one message
2. If approached by the police…
Then you can talk. Police have the right to ask you for your name, address and a valid I.D, and can detain you if you cannot produce a card. You are not required to answer any other questions. If someone presses you for more information, simply point to your sign. Do not get into a confrontation with the police; this is not part of the ghosting strategy. Although you do have a right to be on the sidewalk carrying a sign, if you are hassled, simply begin walking slowly around the block, circling your target area. You may be asked to cross to the other side of the street; do so, walk ahead a reasonable distance, then cross back. Your compliant, polite nature and persistence are key; this is not "in your face" protesting in the usual sense. Your continued, quiet presence, not a show of force, is your power.
3. If someone is argumentative and repeatedly tries to engage you in a conversation, move away. Avoid making eye contact. If the individual repeatedly comes close to you, or you think may attempt to assault you, leave the area temporarily. You can always come back. If someone is supportive, nod or smile in acknowledgment, but don’t get into a conversation.
4. Do not touch anyone with your hands or with your sign. Your activity is protected as "symbolic speech" (nonverbal expression whose purpose is to communicate ideas), but gestures that might be considered threatening or intimidating (or lewd) are not. Your sign is confrontational enough.
5. Do not block traffic or get in people's way. Be sure that you are not blocking an entrance to the building (which would put you in the category of civil disobedience). Position yourself so that you could not possibly be considered blocking someone’s access to the doors, stairs, etc.
6. Dress neatly, respectfully. Wear comfortable shoes. You will be on your feet for an hour or so.
7. Your message should be issue oriented not personal. The one placard containing the issue should be professional, not personal or mock anyone or anything. It should be blunt, direct and with a punch. And remember to keep it clean.
8. Be careful to write legibly and concisely. >Make sure to hold the sign so that people can read it as you are walking around. This may mean having to stop for a moment. Because you are quiet, pleasant and peaceful, people will take time to read your sign! A lot of people are turned off by all the shouting and whistle blowing we often see with protests or with the violent spin the big media companies give protesters. This is your chance to show a different side. Remember you attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.
THE GHOSTLY TRADITION
We have been doing a lot of research into ghosting since our colleague, a retired Episcopal priest named Robert Castle, said he remembered it from seminary over 40 years ago. He said he remembers being told the Quakers started ghosting--although we have not been able to confirm this. Thanks to Father Jim Taylor of Syracuse, we know ghosting probably comes from the anti-establishment religionists from the XVI and XVII centuries. The New Yorker has lampooned possibly the most noteworthy ghost-type -- the lone figure patrolling city streets with a sign saying 'The End is Nigh'. Ghosting should not be confused with Gandhi's tactic of 'Haunting', whereby the poor would silently and swiftly confront the affluent by standing briefly on a golf course.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO JOIN US?
Financial people talk about 'chaos theory' that one small event or action can have tremendous influence and can bring about large changes(price) in the market. We think ghosting is the beginning of something BIG!So get out there and ghost.
Prayers before ghosting:
O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect.
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace.
O God of peace, you have taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength. By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray you, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God.
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be completely yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray you, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people.
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. (Prayer attributed to St. Francis)
Above prayers are taken from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer.
I) Peace--Stop Bush's Holy Crusade
The following quotations and slogans are suggested for placards to speak out against the war and advocate peace. We suggest that you supplement the quotes with phrases to emphasis that you are against the war with Iraq. For example,WE NEED A NEW ANSWER TO WAR-I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends. Abraham Lincoln
There never was a good war or a bad peace.
II) Religious Messages-Economic Injustice
For our Federal Reserve ghosting, most placards bore the same heading: Mercy over Money, Compassion over Commerce but the text below varied. Each "ghost" would have his/her own sign to carry, with a different body text.
"He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and the Lord will repay him for his deed."(Proverbs 19:17)
"God has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)
"For the Lord of Hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up and high;...and the Lord will be exalted in that day. And the idols shall utterly pass away." (Isaiah 2:12, 17c, 18)
"What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?" (Isaiah 3:15) This one could also include a statistic about the wealth imbalance after the head
"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have; for [the Lord] has said, 'I will never fail you nor forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5)
"Many nations will pass by this city, and every man will say to his neighbor, 'Why has the Lord dealt thus with this great city?" And they will answer, "Because they forsook the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshiped other gods and served them." (Jer 22:8-9)
"For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs." (1Timothy 6:10)
III) Economic and Social Justice
"Corporate Welfare is Public Assistance for the Rich"
CEOs earn 475 times as much as wage earners
"Corporate Welfare é Aid to the Poorê "
The top 1% owns 40% of the nations’ wealth; the bottom 40% owns less than 1%
DOUBLE STANDARD: "Creative Destruction" for the Poor. Bailouts for the rich
Or "Bankruptcy" for the Poor, "Bailouts" for the Rich
CUT THE FED HEAD’S POWER-
Free from GAO reporting
Free from Freedom of Information Act
THE FED CHAIR HAS NO CHECKS
….OR BALANCES OF POWER
ü Not elected
ü Free from GAO oversight
ü Can ignore Freedom of Information Act
THE PRESIDENT CAN’T DO ALL THIS…WHY SHOULD HE?
BAILOUTS IN 1990's: "The Decade of Moral Hazard" (The Wall Street Journal)
We Disagree with the Financial Times of London--Greenspan is not! 'OUR BELOVED DICTATOR!"
Wall Street supported by the Bailouts of Fed Head Alan Greenspan!
One Wall Down (Berlin), One Wall to go (Wall Street)
Wall Street: where all the Big, Bad Global NGO's raise their money!
Wall Street: Home of Corporate Welfare.
A market (Wall Street) that needs a 'Lender of Last Resort' is a RIGGED MARKET!
Wall Street: helping the wealthy get wealthier.
On Wall Street, 'Sell' is a four-letter word. So is 'poor'
1% of Americans own 50% of Wall Street
1% of Americans own 40% of America
IV)Non Judeo Christian Quotations
African Traditional Religions
"Gentle character it is which enables the rope of life to stay unbroken in one's hand." Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)
"Busy not yourself with the world, for with fire We test the gold, and with gold We test Our servants." Hidden words of Baha'u'llah, Arabic 54
"Riches ruin the foolish, but not those in quest of the Beyond. Through craving for riches the ignorant man ruins himself as he does others." Dhammapada 355
"The perfume of flowers blows not against the wind, nor does the fragrance of sandalwood, tagara, and jasmine, but the fragrance of the virtuous blows against the wind; the virtuous man pervades every direction." Dhammapada 54
"The master said,' A superior man takes as much trouble to discover what is right as lesser men take to discover what will pay.'" Analects 4.16
"Every Sacrifice is a boat to heaven." Satapatha Brahmana, 22.214.171.124
"He that controls the senses with the mind, and undertakes the yoga of action with the action-senses, but is unattached to the fruits of action, he is the best." Bhagavad-Gita, 3:7
"The earth is upheld by the veracity of those who have subdued their passions, and, following rightgeous practices, are never contaminated by desire, covetousness, and wrath." Vishnu Purana 3.12
"Anyone who is stingy, is stingy only with his own soul. God is Wealthy while you are poor." Qu'ran 47.38
"Woe is he...Who has gathered riches and counted them over, thinking his riches have made him immortal." Qu'ran 47.38
"No individual is lost and no nation is refused prosperity and success if foundations of their thoughts and actions rest upon peity and godliness, and upon truth and justice." Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 21
"If (a ruler) enjoins fear of God, the exalted and Glorious, and dispenses justice, there will be great reward for him; and if he enjoins otherwise, it redounds on him."The Hadith
"Rendering help to another is the function of all human beings." Tattvarthasutra 5.21
"Those whoe do not abandon mercy will not be abandoned by me." Oracle of Itsukushima
Sikhism has a rich tradition of caring for the poor and fighting religious intolerance. The following quotes were proved by Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa and are taken from Siri Guru Granth Sahib, spiritual Guru of the Sikhs.
"O mortal, why have you attached yourself to greed and lost the jewel of life?" SGGS, p.482
"Have you lost your mind? Don't you see that your life grows shorter with each passing day and night? This life of yours is rendered worthless by your greed." SGGS, p.222
"Kabir, do not be so proud and do not laugh at the poor. Your boat is still out at sea, and who knows what may yet happen?" SGGS, p.1367
"The kings of Earth eat up the good karma earned in their past lives. Those cruel-minded rulers who oppress the people, O Nanak, shall suffer torment for a very long time." SGGS, p.1356
"Do not race after riches, do not risk your life for success, or you will let slip the Heaven within you." Chuang Tzu 29
The great man--his face and form blend with the Great unity which is selfless. Being selfless, how can he look upon posssession as possession." Chuang Tzu 11
"The court is corrupt,