Wednesday, September 28, 2011

International Protests, Changing the World, and also, Baby Seals Are Really Cute

This afternoon, stepping into the cafĂ©, I was greeted by an amazing headline on the New York Times: “As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around the Globe.”

The authors go on to draw a line between the protests in Egypt, Libiya, Tunisia, Israel, London, Greece, Spain and now, the Occupation of Wall Street in New York.

“They believe life can be more participatory, more decentralized, less dependent on the traditional models of organization, either in the state or the big company. Those were the dominant ways of doing things in the industrial economy, and they aren’t anymore.”

“Protesters say they so distrust their country’s political class and its pandering to established interest groups that they feel only an assault on the system itself can bring about real change.”

“Mr. Levi, born on Degania, Israel’s first kibbutz, said the protests were not acts of anger but of reclamation, of a society hijacked by a class known in Hebrew as ‘hon veshilton,’ meaning a nexus of money and politics. The rise of market forces produced a sense of public disengagement, he said, a feeling that the job of a citizen was limited to occasional trips to the polling places to vote.  ‘The political system has abandoned its citizens,’ Mr. Levi said.



I could hardly contain myself as I read the article aloud to Jason, who in a mostly uncondesending tone told me that he thinks my ability to get overwhelmed by hope and passion is endearing.  Alright, it's true that I do have a picture of a little baby seal with white eyes as my desktop wallpaper.  So it might be true that I naturally gravitate towards all that is wonderful and dewy-eyed.

I see this little fella everyday when I open my laptop.  Awww...
But you've got to admit, this is just beautiful:

“Increasingly, citizens of all ages, but particularly the young, are rejecting conventional structures like parties and trade unions in favor of a less hierarchical, more participatory system modeled in many ways on the culture of the Web…”

After months of seeing headlines about how fourteen tea baggers did such-and-such, or a rally of forty so-called-patriots did this or that, it feels like a huge breath of fresh air to finally see the hard work of hundreds of thousands of progressive activists across the globe recognized.

There are so many people who have devoted their lives towards doing the work of web-weaving activism and earth healing, and although I’ve known in my heart that we are part of something that is a global pheneomenon – what Paul Hawken calls the “Largest Movement in the World that Nobody Saw Coming” – it’s still so incredibly inspiring and encouraging to read the words of other people around the world reaching out and meeting one another in an energy of connection and allyship, especially when you’re reading those words on the front page of one of the largest media outlets in the US. 

Tomorrow, I’m meeting up with friends from all over the country to go to the “Make Banks Pay” Action in San Francisco, and next week I’m traveling to Washington DC to be a part of the “Stop the Machine” Occupation of Freedom Plaza. 

I’ve always wondered if, looking back, I’d be able to see the Great Turning happening in hindsight, because it can be hard to really track these things as they happen in the present.  Well, today I can feel it unfolding beneath my feet, unfurling like the bright green soft stem of new growth.  This is the Great Turning happening now.  Welcome.  I do hope you’ll join in.