On April, 2010, it was a typical spring in San Francisco. The world I knew was about to change forever. The cruel scenery of modern war seen from an Apache helicopter gun-sight was laid bare for the whole world to see. The 18 minute video started with an opening quote from Orwell: “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
The WikiLeaks release titled Collateral Murder became an international sensation. This video footage revealed the modern face of war perpetuated by a country that had for the last 10 years become my home. WikiLeaks lifted the veil from the insulated American mind and showed the truth of war that had for so long been masked by corporate media. For some Americans, it was a confirmation of government malfeasance, of war crimes overseas. The Pentagon’s reaction to the leaks led to vicious verbal attacks on WikiLeaks as well as a secret Grand Jury investigation. For the US government, the WikiLeaks releases were more than just inconvenient truths. They were a threat to US hegemony and needed to be punished.
This was just the beginning. In 2011 from Arab Spring to the Indignado protest to Occupy, an upsurge of global resistance began. People all over the world rebelled against a corporate world order and its chattel governments. I saw something bursting out. It was the winds of change. I felt a new Zeitgeist building momentum on the global stage. I sensed a vital energy convergence at a level I had never seen before. It is now hitting the streets and city squares.
Now two years have passed since the Collateral Murder burst out to the world. On Friday June 22, I was alerted to news from my home country, Japan. A massive anti-nuclear demonstration had taken hold in Tokyo at the Prime Minister’s Official residence to protest against the first restart of a nuclear power plant since the Fukushima meltdown. Watching from across the Pacific, it felt like the Arab Spring moment for Japan. This protest had been growing since early March and was totally ignored by the media. But now it couldn’t be stopped.
The following week on June 29, the anti-nuclear demonstration swelled to 200, 000 people according to the organizers while police estimated 15,000. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal started to cover the event, so major Japanese news outlets were forced to pick up the story. The New York Times reported it as the largest protest in Tokyo since the 60’s: 29-year-old homemaker Yoko Kajiyama was quoted as saying, “Japanese have not spoken out against the national government;” “Now, we have to speak out or the government will threaten us all.”
From across the Pacific, I was watching this global uprising finally hit my home country. For me this trend toward revolution never felt so close as it was now. I saw these people, my own blood and culture who have been known as polite, obedient and apolitical citizens, now openly challenging their government. People from all ages filled the street in front of prime minister’s Noda’s official residence chanting in Japanese; “No More Restart!” What triggered this reaction by the Japanese populace?
On June 7, about 70 women including 10 women from Fukushima conducted a ‘die-in’ in front of Prime Minister’s Official Residence to protest the restart of Ooi nuclear power plant. Before the die-in, 10 Fukushima women visited the Cabinet office and spoke to officials about their pain and everyday fear of living with this radiation. The real voices of these women were heard on social media and could no longer be blocked. This lit the fire of outrage that had been held in for months. Once again, social media was instrumental in spreading the word like wildfire, just as with the revolutions in the Middle East.
Despite the media blackout, these bubbling civic forces were irrepressible. Now this movement has a name, The Ajisai (Hydrangea) Revolution. Citizen journalists on YouTube and Twitter rallied people for this mass movement whose numbers then exploded exponentially, culminating in the June 29’s critical mass in Tokyo.
The power of the people spread with networked social media. Like the Arab revolutions, I saw a similar pattern. In Tunisia, US diplomatic cables played a key role in the people’s uprising. Findings in the cables confirmed their government’s corruption, which empowered the Tunisians. For Japan it was the Fukushima Leaks. The tragedy of the 2011 earthquake not only released massive radiation, but also induced a meltdown of the illegitimate authority. It leaked deep government corruption and ties between the nuclear industry and the state. We were lied to. It is now clear that the media is an arm of government and the government doesn’t care about the people. This is what the Fukushima Leaks revealed.
Around the world people are taking to the streets. After bankers ravaged the economy, Iceland forgave mortgage debts and nationalized the banks, even putting some of the CEOs behind bars. The people of Iceland are engaging in a non-violent revolution to overthrow the banker’s control of their government.
This Spring, in Toronto an estimated 40,000 students engaged in tuition hike protests for more than 100 days. It culminated in a throng 50 city blocks long, as demonstrators challenged the legitimacy of the government that was trying to further privatize public education and outlaw protest itself. Harsh reaction to this despotic act united Canadians with the fire for civil liberties. At the end of May, the student movement spread nationwide with the name “Casseroles Night in Canada”. This movement continues. Recently, 146 Greek academics joined in support of the Quebec students.
Frustration and anger toward flawed education systems was shared. Last Thursday in Santiago Chile, Tens of thousands of high school and college students took to the streets of the Chilean capital to call for an end to public financing of private universities and other reforms to the country’s corrupted educational system.
WikiLeaks cable fueled the fire again. This time is in Mexico, bolstering its peaceful youth movement against political corruption of the media. “The TV is yours,” read one banner, “but Mexico is ours.” In June 10, more than 90,000 protesters took part in a mass demonstration. The students continue to protest calling for more democracy and democratization of the media as many are challenging the validity of the recent election.
On Julian Assange’s show The World Tomorrow, Bahrain activist Nabeel Rajab spoke of the upsurge of civic power that swirled through his country: “I think the whole family has become activists. We are almost more than a thousand members… the family… and, I mean, I think many of them become activists now. The whole nation – the revolution have made the whole nation activist”.
Now the world we knew is changing before our eyes. We are all becoming activists. For so long we have been told we don’t have power. We had become invisible in this global corporate matrix. Politicians foist lies upon us as truth, make murder respectable and democracy becomes empty rhetoric.
People are waking up. We are no longer invisible. I see unquenchable spirit in the courageous actions of ordinary people. Borders stretch and dissolve. The grand illusion of legitimate governance is crumbling. When police attack and evict, with increasingly brutal tactics, claiming land is private property that belongs to corporations or the state, we say, No! Planet Earth is our home. Around the world, people are coming to realize a larger reality and a higher law than ones that defend and serve the interests of a tiny portion of society and global corporations.
On June 27, Anonymous struck in Japan. A Twitter feed, @op_japan associated with the online collective claimed responsibility for taking down Japanese government websites in retaliation for draconian new anti-piracy bill passed recently. The World Wide Web has no borders. This is confirmed every day now: we are living in a world where one country’s policy and problems affect everyone. Enthusiasm for free information sharing and common cause for justice is contagiously uniting a rising tide of Anonymous around the world. On June 29, @AnonymousIRC tweeted:
The legal attacks on Julian Assange that were meant to be an example for all who challenge power have become a unifying force for citizens around the world. While corrupt Western leaders regard him as an enemy of the state, he has become a crusader for free speech and justice. At the news of his asylum request in Ecuador, support for Assange surged. People are uniting and joining the battle to call out an illegitimate Western justice system.
On July 1, despite the nonstop protest, the Japanese government restarted the nuclear plant. This is only the beginning. Musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto’s sent an urgent message:
“I will continue to appeal that humanity cannot cohabit with nuclear power, whether as a weapon or as a means of electricity. I believe this is how we can contribute and be responsible to the international community as a nation that was exposed to radiation for the third time.” – (Ryuichi Sakamoto, English translation by BALÉS, Takahiro Katsumi)
On December 17th 2010, the fire of self-immolation lit the fuel of the Arab Spring and sparked waves of uprising around the globe. Now in the summer of 2012, a collective epiphany has begun. The awakening to our sacred planet is uniting people in global solidarity. I now see unfolding what I felt back in 2010. I feel it in the chanting and drumming of ordinary people, her breath beneath my feet. We are the winds of change. Our solidarity is the true solidity in the pure wind.