JOURNALING BETWEEN WORLDS

Global Citizen Blogging

From Tunisia to Tokyo, We Are the Winds of Change July 2, 2012

Filed under: Collateral Murder,Fukushima,Japan,Revolution,WikiLeaks — Nozomi Hayase @ 7:16 am

Image Credit – 池田良撮影 via 横野 勝

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.”

Image Credit - AbeRei/阿部玲 Blog

Image Credit – AbeRei/阿部玲 Blog

Image Credit – AbeRei/阿部玲 Blog

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.

This month alone, large protests occurred globally; From Brazil to Nepal, and on July 1 in Hong Kong. Throughout the world, government illegitimacy is mobilizing citizens to stand up and take action.

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.

 

Ordinary People Making History January 1, 2012

Filed under: Collateral Murder,Reflections on 2011,WikiLeaks — Nozomi Hayase @ 2:17 am

When I was in college, Great Britain returned Hong Kong to China. I remember how a Chinese exchange student friend shared his excitement at this great moment. On TV, I saw and felt the excitement and joy in the world at the news. I still recall how I felt then -that I was a part of something larger and that I was witnessing an event that changed history. I felt a sense of urgency and aliveness back then.

Something similar has happened in 2011. Things were probably already happening, but I did not fully realize it. It really started in the Spring of 2010 when WikiLeaks released the Collateral Murder video. Perhaps it was the vivid scenery of brutal modern war that for a moment shook the familiar ground of reality and challenged my perception of the world. But, it was not just that -this was something even bigger.

Since then, the pace of change has sped up. In anticipation of the US Diplomatic cables release in December, I felt the old world order crumbling. Like the air before a big storm, I sensed something unexpected was about to happen. I didn’t quite know what it was, but just felt something big was occurring.

2011 was the year it all caught fire. What had only been in history books was unfolding in real time. Revolutions were starting around the world. People were rising up in Tunisia. Next the fire of self- immolation lit the passion of people in Tahrir Square in Egypt. People that were long oppressed by dictators were starting to fight back.

This fire did not stop. It kept moving, burning into the house-of-cards extractive world economy. Libya and Spain convulsed and riots broke out in London. Now right here in my neighborhood, the Occupy Movement is becoming the biggest uprising since the 60s; not only in the US, but around the world.

What I have seen is people who had been passive are now starting to be active agents in their own lives. People all over are standing up to take power back in their own hands. I see history unfolding, a history that is challenging so many forms of the past. Who would have thought this would happen? Every single day I am witnessing the world changing before my eyes.

Occupy SF March, Oct 29, 2011

This was the future perhaps Bradley Manning saw, ordinary people making history. Bradley, you may not be able to see it with your eyes, but the world is changing as you hoped. With Mic check, ordinary citizens are reclaiming their voices. Anonymous and LulzSec are taking activism to new heights, taking on what was thought of as an impossible fight. Ebay lost a huge share in one day and Paypal and Bank of America were hit in unprecedented Anonymous operations. Anonymous has gone after those that pretend to be democratic representatives of the people, like the ones who voted for NDAA bill that is the death knell for the Bill of Rights and the police that use increasing violence against their own people that are just peacefully protesting.

All over the world, people are responding to injustice and abuse of power. This gives me hope.This reminds me of what it is to be human; that we are here not to simply observe history, but we are to actively participate in its making.

2011 was a year of awakening; the awakening of a heart that remembers shared commitment to the other. Perhaps we all came to this world at this exciting moment in history to create the future together. I may not be able to prove it, but I feel it is true.

Originally written on August 8, 2011
Updated on Dec 31, 2011

 

Looking Backwards Through the Gun-sight January 16, 2011

Filed under: Collateral Murder,Public Relations,Sarah Palin,WikiLeaks — Nozomi Hayase @ 10:08 pm

Image Credit - newyorkchique.blogspot.com

Cross hairs and gun-sights are all the rage in the media these days after the killings in Tucson, with Sarah Palin getting flack for her mindless cross hairs map, to the inflamed calls for illegal assassination of Julian Assange. Could this be a time for a more self-conscious look at the violent undercurrents of our ‘civilized’ American society? Perhaps each one of us has at some point put someone in our own gun sights after reducing them into the role of an enemy. What responsibility does each of us share for this violent rhetoric and behavior?

The shooting in Tucson was an event that has brought home how deeply violent American culture can be. The American people have drifted into what I term a gun-sight consciousness, one that is extremely narrow and turns others into caricatures, easily targeted with hate and manipulated with fear-based reactions. The ‘big guns’ US military budget that feeds at least three active wars is sacrosanct, all the while the country is going bankrupt and under no real threat from any nation. This is as senseless as the over-hyped rhetoric of right vs. left when both parties clearly serve the same billionaire masters. Maybe it a good time to wake up and become aware of how we are moving quickly into self-destruction phase  through manipulation of irrational fear and outrage.

One reaction to the recent shootings in Arizona was a call to restrict freedom of speech and other constitutional rights. Superficial discourse and reactions move quickly, yet the important question remains; how did we get to this narrow gun-sight consciousness?

It seems that in this country there is always an enemy, a boogieman. The people are told they should fear some evil that the government then promises to eliminate, even if by illegal means. Without one knowing it, society’s vision has become simple-minded fixation through a gun sight consciousness, leading to collective witch-hunts for ‘communists’ to ‘terrorists’, from Bin Laden to Julian Assange. It does not matter as long as crafted image can be captured in the media’s one-sided lens and fear is manipulated, leading to more loss of rights and unquestioning support of government repression.

To understand this, it is important to look at the process of perception and how the media over the years has become a powerful tool to intervene in how one views and interprets daily events. The work of perception management known as Public Relations can be traced back to Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays found a way to tap into unconscious desire, a great force that enables perception control of the masses. It is people’s blindness to these forces that make them susceptible to manipulation. With carefully targeted images, this approach to propaganda constructs characters projected onto a screen of the mind, which then focuses unconscious desires or fears. In the case of the US government, these are terrorists; WMD and immigrants who it is claimed will take over or destroy the ‘American way of life’. Constructed by PR puppet masters, these images come alive and work to trigger hidden motives and primitive reactions.

Whether it is ‘national security’, ‘defending freedom’ or ‘bringing democracy’, these sound bites rationalize irrational fear and anger and narrow the other down into the gun sight. What is actually beneath this fear is a perceived threat to the pervasive sense of entitlement of the middle class way of life. “After 9/11, Mr. Bush had the chance to summon the country to a great nation-building project focused on breaking our addiction to oil. Instead, he told us to go shopping” (Friedman, July 20, 2008). What is implicit in the rhetoric of ‘threatening our freedom’ is license to be mindless consumers, which is only made possible through the exploitation of other countries and unsustainable extreme capitalism along with naked aggression and violence of the resource wars abroad. It is no wonder that this type of vitriol also bleeds back into domestic politics as we saw in Tucson.

Image Credit - military.com

These threats felt in a pre-conscious realm compel people to narrow their vision, to hunt for a target in the gun sights. But, by degrading others, we reduce our own humanity. Instead of confronting the source and manipulation of fear inside that drives people to act irrationally, those who wish to control public perception direct anger and frustration towards crafted enemies outside. Fixated on the target, one then continues chasing after ephemeral enemies. The fearful huddled masses turn attention outward to engage with projected simplistic images to blindly defend an arrogant sense of entitlement.

An ancient Greek sage once said, “Know Thyself”. This is simply said, but it is hard to do. Yet, without knowing who one is, the eyes get clouded. We blindly interact with our own projections. When we lose touch with ourselves, human discourse is derailed. Political debate naturally tends toward the hateful and simpleminded.

The killing of civilians that was revealed through the cross hairs view of the WikiLeaks Collateral Murder video confronted the world with the collective gun sight consciousness and narrow belief systems prevalent in US politics. The question is; when will we start looking backwards through the gun sights and open up to the victim’s perspective? When will it be time to widen our own perception? If we step back for a moment we may see that the world is really a mirror. This is essentially what WikiLeaks has done for US citizens: hold up a reflection of what we have become. It is through each person courageously choosing to love their supposed enemy that society can correct the nearsighted vision and allow us to look backward through the gun sights. This way we can set ourselves free to live again within the intricacy of inter-relationship that defines our common humanity.

Notes:

Friedman, T. L. (2008, July 20). 9/11 and 4/11. The New York Times. Retrieved January 15, 2011 from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/20/opinion/20friedman.html?_r=1&em&ex=1216785600&en=d99abe61c15d216c&ei=5087%0A

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

This piece was published at thepeoplesvoice.org:

http://www.thepeoplesvoice.org/TPV3/Voices.php/2011/01/17/looking-backwards-through-the-gun-sight

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers

%d bloggers like this: