Occupy Savvy Exclusive! One of the coolest things about activism is that it doesn’t have celebrities – it has role models. Recently, we put 7 poignant questions to five of the world’s most inspiring women. These women hail from Iceland, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, and for their profound actions, deeds, words, generosity, heart, and perseverance, we deem them “wahine toa”.
In Aotearoa, New Zealand, we describe a fearless woman of soul and substance, as “wahine toa”. This very loosely translates to “woman warrior.”
The Maori dictionary explains it as;
wāhine: (noun) women, females, ladies, wives.
toa: (stative) be brave, bold, victorious, experienced, accomplished, adept, competent, skilful, capable.
But wahine toa is even more; to us she is;
kaitiaki: (noun) trustee, minder, guard, custodian, guardian, keeper.
ūkaipō: (noun) mother, origin, source of sustenance, real home.
She is “atua” in the sense of; “a way of perceiving and rationalising the world”.
If it were audible; we could almost hear our ladies blushing through the screen. The truth is; they deserve every accolade we can give them, as they live this wild journey called life to the fullest, inspiring so many of us to follow their path, by discovering our own.
These next few days, you will see the same 7 questions posted here, again and again. But you will see vastly different answers. All of a unique and immeasurable insightfulness that is a gift, as a reader, to absorb.
In Part One we published the heartfelt words of Turtle Island, Canada’s Min Reyes.
Part Two is an exclusive interview with Iceland’s very own Birgitta Jónsdóttir.
Birgitta Jónsdóttir is a POETician and activist (member) of the Icelandic Parliament (since 2009), Chairperson for the International Modern Media Institute, Chairperson for Pirate Party in Iceland. (“These titles mean nothing really for I live by the rule of the circle of power“). She is an independent parent of 3 children, and was the first Icelandic female to develop websites.
Birgitta is also a member of the International Network Of Parliamentarians On Tibet and an avid supporter of the civil liberties foundations EFF & the ACLU.
She describes her current role as “pretty much being the mosquito in the tent“.
This is the second time we’ve had the pleasure of writing about Birgitta. The first being the most popular Occupy Savvy post to date; last August’s “How Did Iceland Sack Its Government?”
It is our privilege to call her friend. Without further adieu; our exclusive interview with Birgitta Jónsdóttir.
Q1. Occupy Savvy: Strong women abound in the Occupy and Idle No More movements. Did you ever foresee that you would contribute as meaningfully as you have, to such momentous events?
Birgitta: In my wildest dreams: NO. I am forever humbled by the fact that my actions have somehow inspired others to act, to be changemakers in a world that so desperately needs for people to claim their responsibility of co-creation before it is too late.
Q2. Occupy Savvy: An ONZ admin says “Activism didn’t radicalise me; the state response to activism radicalised me.” Can you empathise with this statement?
Birgitta: I have always been radical, so it didn’t need any encouragement to carry on from oppressive response. I can empathize with this statement for I saw it happen to many of my fellow activists.
Q3. Occupy Savvy: Activism messages appear to be increasingly penetrating the public consciousness. What is your experience of this awakening?
Birgitta: I define myself as an activist in parliament, the role of activists is to push the threshold of norms; if normality as we know it has become unsustainable and harmful, the need of activists is even greater. I have been told by other parliamentarians that I have changed the parliament by my methods of working there. It says a lot about this change we are experiencing that a person like me is accepted by the mainstream by being voted into the role of the lawmaker. Perhaps that is a signal that the times are changing.
I do at the same time feel that people are losing steam and feel that their activism is not giving needed results of change and feel in some ways that it is useless to engage. Sometimes positive change can take a long time, especially when it means total transformation. I want to urge that we cant give up midstream. We are so many, we have so many great minds, so many visionaries who need to come together in order to draw together the blueprint for the future.
I feel many people understand what is wrong with our societies but I feel we lack joint vision from going from here to solutions. The solutions are all there but we need to draw them together and start to work on them in a joint global effort. It is of utter importance to get people inside the system in order to understand how it works in order to change it.
Q4. Occupy Savvy: What has been your most satisfying moment of the global revolution, to date?
Birgitta: There is not one moment for me, rather the fact that the global revolution is an ongoing process, and the satisfaction evolves around the fact that it is still going on, new countries getting into the loop, new actions, more creativity, to see that many realize it is a long haul.
Q5. Occupy Savvy: In what way would you most like to see the global narrative shift, from this point?
Birgitta: Direct democracy and transparency is key to make the changes we are demanding take root. It is easy to get a revolution going compared to finding solutions in maintaining people engaged and to create social structures based on that engagement.
We need to transform our thought of power and lack of power. Pyramids are not a natural order, the circle of power however is. We need to move from EGOlogy to ECOlogy. Understand that we are all connected and that no individual has all the answers. Move from needing leaders to lead us from the mess and accept that our strength comes from being strong together rather then seeking strong leaders.
We are running out of planet and it is really important to remember that no change starts anywhere except through our own actions.
Q6. Occupy Savvy: What advice would you give to a woman becoming involved in activism for the first time?
Birgitta: Follow your gut, dont think things too much through. Just do it:)
Q7. Occupy Savvy: In what way have you seen your country change, over the last 18 months? In what way would you see it change, in the next 18?
Birgitta: In 2009 we saw some really impressive possibilities for changes in Iceland. Clear demands for fundamental changes were put forward and adopted by all of the political parties who got voted into office in 2009, except the right wing party. The most important demand was that the people of Iceland would write a new constitution by and for the people.
Those that have held the reigns of power since we claimed our independence from Denmark in 1944 have done EVERYTHING in order to destroy this process of modern democracy, and now it looks like they are winning. We have elections late April and ignorant people seem to think they can entrust the very same people who caused this country to have the world 4th largest financial meltdown in recorded history the power to look after their interests.
We have seen many positive changes occurring that would not have been possible unless we had a good crisis. Perhaps the crisis was not bad enough in order to push the needed fundamental changes through. We have seen similar development in other countries. It leads me to the conclusion we need to know exactly what we want in the aftermath of crisis and implement it very fast, just like bad laws and fundamental changes are imposed during times of shock.
Iceland has been made into some sort of poster child of the revolution, and i guess many feel they need to see prove that activism and revolutions change things for the greater good. The fact of the matter is however, that we are far from a poster child. We are far from having achieved the things set in motion during times of crisis. But if we are fortunate enough to understand when crisis will hit again that we need different approach to democracy, our current system is outdated because of many factors, if we are wise enough to offer alternatives that the common people can rally behind we will change things and transform politics as we know them.
I am a pragmatic anarchist and I understand and accept that many do not want to spend their time as responsible citizens, they want to transfer their power to someone else, thus I want to help create the tools in order for this transfer of power to be truly democratic and revokable. This is why I have helped create a Pirate Party in Iceland, in order to experiment with liquid democracy from our own internal work to the representatives in parliaments.
I understand that the suffering of others is my suffering, I understand that despite the fact I live on an island that we are not islands, but interconnected, and that the fate of humanity rests on those that are willing to accept the responsibility of co-creating our societies.
It is time to zero the dysfunctional self serving systems and create smaller systems that will be crafted from our love for our societies and respect for ecology, and the fact that we are all equal in the circle of power.
To us, the best way to finish an interview with Birgitta is by sharing her poetry. It is the raw narrative of revolution. Once again, she has blessed us with a piece. A living reminder, that some things have no monetary value. Gifts of the heart are priceless. For us this poem is a taonga – a sacred treasure. Thank you Birgitta.
Changes – by Birgitta Jónsdóttir
Something big is happening
Gaia has regained her consciousness
her way of surviving
growing in my mind
A whole universe of possibilities
to make the invisible seen
Be a part of
Learn to listen to our mother’s voice
through her infinite creations
I keep making the picture bigger
so I won’t lose myself
Earthquakes move through me
volcanic eruptions of insight
as the revolution
of silent changes
If you haven’t seen “The Mouse That Roared”, a background documentary about the Icelandic Revolution; it is a must-watch. Embedded below for your viewing pleasure!
That concludes the second part of “Women Warriors Of The Global Revolution”. We thank Birgitta for repping Iceland in this series and for all the time she has invested in us. Keep an eye out in the coming days for interviews with other wahine toa; from Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
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