May All Beings Indeed Be Well

Kris Martin

I was coming out of a concert (Thievery Corporation, LOVE THEM!) a while back when a young woman said to me, dismissively if not derisively, “I guess you’re trying to make a statement.” I was, admittedly, acting in a rather public and perhaps provocative manner – shirtless, I was trying to fling my MAY ALL BEINGS BE WELL t-shirt that I had worn to the show up onto the Walk/Don’t Walk sign that was about 10 feet high. I was in the middle of the crowd as it was still filing out of the theater, and the shirt just wouldn’t stay hanging up there, except one time it did, but the message wasn’t legible, so I kept trying to fling it up there, to no avail. My friends weren’t sure what the hell I was doing, and I guess I was making somewhat of a fool of myself. But trying to make a statement? Guilty as charged. Each shirt, each message is meant to provoke thought, and indeed to possibly even make a difference. Later on that night, I found a more convenient place to hang my shirt: on a quiet block in the East Village. I do this – as a bit of an homage to the artist James de la Vega whose chalk-written life-affirming messages would show up on sidewalks outside of subway stations in the Bronx and Manhattan, invariably brightening my day – I often leave my shirt behind as a statement, perhaps, or a gift to whomever chooses to make it their own. If you ever see me walking around with a t-shirt on that you like, just say so, and it’s yours. I’ll be disappointed in myself if I don’t make a statement, or at least try to. Though I’ve never been to Burning Man, I am a fan and humble practitioner of unconditional gifting. For a while now, I’ve been leaving shirts around in nearby parks (littering, I suppose), in my own de la Vega-like effort to spread positive messages. As I see it, it is only through the open acceptance, respectful inclusiveness, intellectual curiosity, engaged environmentalism, collectivist spirit, celebration of diversity, belief in the equal value of all beings and commitment to non-violence that are the hallmarks of progressive movements that the many significant challenges we face will be effectively understood and addressed.
For Peace + Justice, With Love + Gratitude, Kris

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