If you work at or near the Goldman Sachs headquarters at 200 West Street, you might have seen Max Zahn recently. He’s a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and former community organizer who, for the past week and a half, has been meditating outside of Goldman’s building in silent, nonviolent protest.
In an interview with Nathan Schneider, Zahn says he wants to end the bank’s “addiction to greed” by “modeling a technique that cultivates the capacity for emotional states like compassion and empathy.” His model, he says, is Turkey’s “Standing Man” — a citizen who has stood silently in a public square in protest of the Turkish government and inspired others to join him.
Zahn has made some progress — mainly, making nice with the Goldman security guards — though he says nobody else from Goldman has spoken to him. Meditating in noisy Battery Park City, though, has been a challenge. Zahn tells Schneider that, while he tries to keep his cool by meditating with his eyes pointed downward, he can’t always block out the outside world:
At Goldman, it has been a lot more difficult to sustain continuous attention on the breath. The noise of the street corner — combined with the personal and political significance of the location — makes for an extremely distracting environment.
As of last Friday, Zahn was still outside 200 West Street, with a sign that reads “Begin Anew With Compassion.” He says there’s “nothing inherently evil or malicious” about Goldman workers,” whom he calls “beautifully complicated products of a personal and social history.” So don’t just stand there snickering, Goldmanites. Say hi, be nice, maybe throw an extra Shackburger on your lunch order for him, and then give him some freaking peace and quiet.