Syntagma, ground-zero of the global resistance movement

by Jérôme E. Roos on July 10, 2011*

In a truly incredible display of positive mindedness and global consciousness, Syntagma square has already proven that another world is possible.

Syntagma Square, Sunday July 10th

It’s 9:30pm. The square is slowly filling up with people. The sound installation has just been set up, protest music is blasting from the speakers and is reflected by the empty walls of Parliament. The atmosphere is jovial, friendly and unpretentious. There is electricity in the air on this warm summer night in Athens.

I’m amazed by the sheer diversity of people here. They come from all walks of life and seem to form a broadly representative cross-section of society: from the usual suspects — hippies, leftists and anarchists — to undogmatic young couples with children. Even conservatives and nationalists seem to be represented.

I’ve seen retired people sitting side-by-side with university students, middle-aged men having beers on the steps in front of Parliament, tourists from all over the world observing it all in amazement, sympathizers and activists airing their solidarity and support. I even saw an old lady — she must have been well past 80 — socializing with a bunch of protesters in their mid-20s.

I’m also amazed by the immense work people are putting into sustaining this movement. All of it seems to bloom out of nothing, in a truly organic grassroots kind-of way, but behind the scenes, a humble group of hardcore activists work day and night to provide the platform upon which this incredible outpouring of popular unity can flourish.

The most beautiful thing about it is that the people in this organizing hub categorically refuse to take credit for the incredible project they’ve managed to lift off the ground. They are a testament to the fact that another world is possible. A world with humble leaders who just want to allow others to flourish, rather than basking in the limelight themselves.

Hundreds of volunteers are engaged in the most wide-ranging daily chores, from making food to translating extensive transcripts — and they carry all of it out with a degree of love and conviction I’ve never encountered anywhere else before. Indeed, on Syntagma, the only lazy Greeks seem to be the stray dogs that have made the square their home over the past couple of weeks.

Something extremely exciting is happening here tonight. My new friends at the square have set up a live video link with the indignants in Paris, Madrid, Barcelona and Lisbon. Tonight, some of Europe’s main squares will join each other in a pan-European debate on the future of our crisis-ridden continent. It’s yet another confirmation of the fact that our revolution knows no borders.

What we’re witnessing here tonight is a grand social experiment in creating a new democracy — from the grassroots up to the global level. It’s absolutely exhilarating to be a part of this and to see that even in the harshest of circumstances (or perhaps only in the harshest of circumstances) humanity manages to unfold its purest and most beautiful essence before the world.

Right now, I’m sitting next to a Brazilian friend underneath the canvas of the media & communications tent — an impromptu multimedia hive that includes an internet café, a print room, archives and a radio station. He’s Skyping in Spanish with representatives of the occupations in Lisbon, Madrid and Barcelona.

Meanwhile, right next to me, a Belgian girl is having a heated debate with a Turkish guy, and a group of Greek activists is discussing their next moves for the night. I haven’t even spent twelve hours here yet, but I’ve already gotten to practice my Spanish, French and Italian. The incredibly friendly Greek people excuse the fact that I don’t speak Greek and, despite the communication barrier, always welcome me with a smile.

Now a French guy comes in carrying a video camera. Apparently, he’s making a documentary about the epic protests and revolutions of 2011. He just arrived from Madrid and will be making his way to Cairo soon. We are here in the thousands. People of the world, united in a struggle that is not just limited to the plight of the Greek people — but one that affects us all. This, if anything, is the globalization of consciousness.

I will never forget the Canadian lady who came by earlier. With tears in her eyes, she thanked Maria — one of the most incredible people I have met here so far — for her commitment to the peaceful Greek revolution. Overcome by emotion and stumbling over her words, she told her something I will never forget: “thank you, people of Greece, for giving the world hope.”

Maria, true to style, responded by refusing to take any credit for it all. But it’s exactly her humility that gives me and the people of the world hope that we really can create a better place for all. This revolution is global. But Syntagma Square is right there at the forefront of it.

*Jerome Roos is one of the editors of Roar mag. The article appearing here originally published in Roar mag

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