Shining moments happen now and then. While the big ones demand attention, small ones often escape notice. Some are in the eye of the beholder.
For this beholder, a few of the big shining moments that come to mind: When years of massive popular uprising finally brought down the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. When Iceland defied the European bankers. When indigenous Bolivians forced US corporate giant Bechtel to drop its plan to make them pay for their own water, even for rain that fell from the Andean sky. And then, just a week ago:
Despite a deluge of propaganda and threats, 61%of Greeks said Όχι, No! to financial-political strangulation by Euro-banks, Greek corporate gangsters and their wholly owned media.
That was a shining moment. It followed the January 2015 election of the Syriza movement to govern Greece, primarily on a promise to end imposed ‘austerity,’ a toxic mix of impoverishment and grand theft that had already devastated the country.
I am hungry for these shining moments, as I imagine many of us are. The big ones don’t come very often. Our grasping at straws can make us naive, trip us up on our own illusions.
A week later, the Όχι moment is over.
Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras overrode democracy and the clear wishes of his own people to accept, behind closed doors, a set of conditions guaranteed to be even more viciously destructive to his country than the ones a strong majority of Greeks had just refused in their historic referendum.
In their castles today, the international bankers and politicians who serve them are surely celebrating. They have made an example of the Greek people, as kings used to do with heads on pikes: See what we do to those who defy us.
How Greeks who invested their hopes in the new government and its promises feel today, I can hardly imagine. The grief and rage of two other observers is eloquently expressed here, and here.
And in a rapidly growing international protest on Twitter, #ThisIsACoup, here.
But the story doesn’t end there. It continues where it always does, in Greece and everywhere else, often out of sight on streets, in markets, cafés and tavernas, in offices, schools and barracks. People talk, they learn, they unravel the lies, patch the disappointments, share, organize, resist. And so it goes.
The story also continues in the turmoil and the quiet of our minds, where many small shining moments are born. Often they grow, and sometimes they bear fruit.