The Wisconsin capitol, Sintagma square and everything in between
A dispatch from a member of the WI uprising in the midst of the #GreekRevolution
I watched the United States and my home battleground of Wisconsin disappearing out the window of the plane and my mind drifted back to the streets of Madison.
I thought of the past months and protesting around the capitol.
I thought of the hundreds of thousands of people pouring into the capitol…
I thought of the small group that grew to be a huge group, and into a crowd, and into thousands, and into tens of thousands, and into hundreds of thousands.
I smiled as I remembered how at first, before the unions arrived, before the democratic party got involved… The people showed up with no prompting or organizing other than their outrage at …
Sometimes it seems lost in all this uproar that it was the people who turned out in great numbers with nobody telling them to do so SIMPLY BECAUSE THINGS HAD BECOME INTOLERABLE! A popular movement out of thin air.
Then I thought further back to the pretty boy who tricked a state into giving him the reins and promptly betrayed them.
I lingered a moment on the night they first snuck the bill through illegally when 100 protesters turned to 7000 in under an hour.
I thought of the Egyptians buying us pizza.
I thought of the Greeks taking pictures with Wisconsin solidarity fists in front of the Acropolis.
I thought of the people who flew from New York, California, Washington, Florida, Massachusetts, Canada and even Egypt to see us, stand with us and chant with us.
I thought of the people who drove from all over the Midwest… Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan…
As I watched the coast fade behind me I thought of the Walkerville tent camp a picture of unyielding optimism.
Of the solidarity singers raising their voices in the capitol despite violence, taking pictures with the Greek flag to send along with me..
Of the SHINE project projecting slogans on walls to be greeted with cheers.
I smiled as I thought of my peoples perseverance.
Their refusal to give in.
The children explaining why WE ARE STILL HERE, while proud parents looked on.
The pride and hope our struggle awakened in me
From jaded to patriot in 6 months.
As the plane flew over the Atlantic Ocean my thoughts turned to the struggles all over the world. Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Spain, Greece… Conditions that became intolerable.
The first spark… The college educated degree holding man reduced to cart vendor, then reduced to nothing when even that was taken from him.
He light himself on fire in despair and started a fire that spread all over north Africa, the middle east, Europe and America.
A flame that burned for different reasons in different places.
A flame the burned in different ways depending on the environment.
But a flame made of the same stuff.
A fire that was created by intolerable conditions.
A flame that was made of the uprisings of people who could not bear sitting back any longer.
A flame that represents a spontaneous popular movement which is not led by any party, person, group or creed… And yet is comprised of all of them, for it is the people and is as varied as they are.
A blaze that defies political parties and cannot be harnessed for personal gain.
A flame that feeds on inequality, disenfranchisement and injustice and shines a bright light… A beacon of hope…
A light that when looked at with an open heart ignites a faith in humanity that lifts weary bones and jaded minds.
A pure light that doesn’t just make you think that we can be better and do better… IT MAKES YOU KNOW IT.
As many battles as we have lost.
As many bills as have passed.
As many people as have been unjustly persecuted, fired, further disenfranchised or oppressed.
This light shines brighter.
And this fire will not extinguish until we are freed from the bonds of oppression.
All this raced through my head as the Atlantic passed underneath me and first England then Europe leapt out of the horizon to greet me.
And I thought now of where I was going.
To find the story that the media wasn’t telling people in the United States.
To find the truths about what was happening.
I knew from family and from Greek news that what they were telling us in the US was not true…
I had heard the US news talk about the debt crisis and austerity.
The talking heads spoke of a Greece grown fat and heavy with social services that was now facing a terrible budget crisis that threatened to drag Europe and America down unless something was done… And how the spoiled Greeks were throwing a temper tantrum now that they didn’t get their free ride anymore…
And you know what I thought of AS SOON AS I HEARD THAT???
I thought of Walker and Fox and the rest of the fools saying EXACTLY THE SAME THING ABOUT WISCONSIN.
NEVER MIND the fact that I knew from firsthand experience that the Greeks were in fact not living it up or even living well.
Never mind that I knew how the social services in Greece are not at all what the news was making them out to be. (Even Jon Stewart?!)
Never mind that I knew quite well that corruption, foreign interests and multinational corporations bear by far the largest blame for the crisis in Greece.
Never mind that I knew Goldman Sachs, after fleecing the American people, moved on to Greece as the next mark.
FORGET ALL THAT…
These simple words; “It’s the peoples fault for all their social services.”
“That’s why we have to make a new budget.”
“That’s why we need to bust unions, cut funding to everything that benefits poor, working and middle class people, while extending the freedoms and deregulations afforded to the rich and huge multinational corporations, while letting the criminals in the government and private industry go unpunished.”
THAT WAS ENOUGH.
Because I, like anyone from Wisconsin or any of the states under attack by the hard line neoconservative push from people like Scott Walker, have heard all that before.
Just as I knew it then to be a lie.
I knew when Walker said those things about Wisconsin it was an excuse to do one thing in the end… Take money from those who already had too little and give it to those who already had too much.
I knew it then and I knew when I heard the same people say it about Greece that it was a still the same lie.
BUT WHAT WAS THE TRUTH??
As my plane landed in Greece, I thought to myself, in the next 6 weeks I will look for the truth.
I came from Wisconsin to Greece to find the story of the #GreekRevolution.
To find the peoples point of view.
To find the ground truth.
What follows is the story that found me.