Since the beginning of 2011, we have witnessed the powerful impact of people standing up for a new way of living.
I have just been in Greece where people are standing up for the life, world, community they wish to see. In Athens, thousands of people in the Syntagma square are practicing democracy collectively. It is self-organizing, citizen-led and it is incredible to witness. I was there on a night where waves of people kept coming into the square. There was a deep sense of purpose, celebration, coherence, and safety. People were taking care of each other.
It seems that Greece is reclaiming its heritage as pioneers of democracy. Young and old are leading the way with celebration and song, intelligence, savvy, social media, hospitality, generosity and courage. The larger vision for direct democracy and healthy communities isn’t simply a slogan to be shouted, but a vision that the thousands of people gathered have started living out right then and there in the streets, together.
Here is how it’s been working: There is a core team of 200 people who then organize with hundreds of others into different sub-teams to take care of the space, the time, the themes, the fun, the people, the future (food supply, communication, political philosophy, medical care, emergency response). in this way, they are hosting and prototyping the political transformation in Greece.
“It is amazing how people started believing in each other,“ says Odysseus, a 26-year-old Athenian. He is part of the self-organizing group that is holding the People’s Assembly every night.
They are weaving the old with the new ~ weaving ancient lineage with the modern by threading together the diversity of practices and people that are present in Greece today. There are hundreds of conversations happening organically. Each night, there is a time for speaking and listening to propositions, voting, decision-making. creating such a “minimal optimal structure” for on-going participation allows for a continuous, emerging coherence as to what they are calling in.
“This is a story of the resurgence of Hellenic Democracy – with a new collective consciousness – that everyone knows is bigger than any one of us. Those that called this and are giving shape to this democratic architecture know that it is running ahead of them – there is no holding it back. A new democratic governance pattern is being practiced – a new constitution is being birthed – we are becoming the democracy we want,” says Maria Scordialos.
This organic style of conversation is a way of accessing a collective’s intelligence through engagement, dialogue, learning together and hosting each other. and it is gorgeous, especially as Greek hospitality is a core part of its culture – so how can Greece host itself through this time of krisis? How can it reclaim its autonomy and heritage and live it in a new way, cleansing itself of the corruption that has debilitated its systems, eradicating the constraints of the IMF, honouring the pain and beauty of its past and tapping the enormous potential?
“I am not sure we will change the whole system, but I know we are cultivating hope and we will be able to say that we began something that our children and their children saw through,” says Odysseus.
These are the real-time practices of life, participation and community, and it is life and death actually. It is not a simulation. People are willing to die for a new way of living. They are modeling what it is to be willing to live for Life.
It is a time of witnessing the breaking down of systems that no longer serve life. A time of hospicing this dying in us and around us. our own souls call us forward to align even more with life. We shed a skin, pass a threshold and step in … another way is possible, we can live it another way. We can make our lives with our own hands, stitch our lineages together with the alchemy of life to create a new world order…
We are dying to live.
Photo and text by Vanessa Reid