Perhaps the relevant question when attempting to comprehend the scope of Birgitta Jonsdottir’s life and work is not, “What does she do?”
The more appropriate and significant question may well be, “What doesn’t she do?”
Icelandic Parliamentary Member, artist, poet, writer, publisher, editor, political activist, hacker, internet pioneer, former spokesperson at Wikileaks, the driving force behind the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, mother of 3, and aspiring yogi are a few of the many hats Birgitta Jonsdottir has worn in her life. And she’s just getting warmed up.
Jonsdottir became a national figure in Iceland when their financial crisis devastated the small Nordic country in late 2008. She was instrumental in bringing awareness to some of the root causes that precipitated the national quandary and became a leading activist in the many protests that ensued around Reykjavik in the following months. She was subsequently elected to Parliament in April 2009 and has held the post since.
Her work at Wikileaks became an international phenomena and her continual determination to create a better world through freedom of information has been inspirational to activists around the world.
I asked Birgitta 3 questions about #Occupy, her current Twitter case against the American government, the future, and of course, Yoga.
Here are her unfiltered, unedited responses.
1. How is the Icelandic experience of financial collapse relevant to #Occupy in present time and what are the implications of #Occupy happening in America for the rest of the world?
We were the first to have our wake up call during these times of transition when we had the 3rd largest financial collapse in human history in 2008. It shook us out of our comfort zones. Got many people interested in participating in reshaping our society and find ways for bringing back the power back to the people. There is a common echo throughout the world: people are realizing that their systems are no longer serving them. We had this realization in Iceland a bit earlier and thus we have had a chance to respond and perhaps set an example for the next steps that need to be taken in order to move power back to the peoples. We know the system is no longer functioning for the greater good, some of us know what we want instead but most of us do not know how to make the transition from the old to the new happen. Personally I feel it is important to downsize our systems and inspire people to be part of co-creating their communities. It is not enough to only create good democratic tools in order to participate. We also need to help people understand that we are part of society and if this society is weak – so are we. If we reclaim our powers we have to understand that with it comes great responsibility. Perhaps we should listen to Dalai Lama when he says: “Too much time is spent in your world developing the mind – develop the heart.” There are many steps we need to take during times of transformation, we have to apply the reverse shock doctrine, we have to shape shift into the places of power in order to understand what we are up against, we have to hack into the real system and create democratic tools inside the system before we can shed it. These are the common echos I hear – I know we can reach a common vision together. There are catalysts of change all over the world. The changes will be felt once we connect, draw strength from each other and learn from each other.
2. The world seems to be in the early stages of an external revolution in some capacity. As this is a yoga blog, do you see the need for inner transformation as well?
There has never been any difference between the external and the internal. So of course we have to go beyond the ego sutra of the west and apply our energies to do the external work with our inner transformations and realizations. If we carry on as we are doing, we will run out of planet. We can use this external crisis to transform our world – all revolutions (r)evolutions begin in our own hearts.
3. You are widely considered to be a leader of freedom and a pioneer of internet authenticity and accountability. President Obama campaigned heavily on transparency. Do you feel he lived up to his promises in light of your recent Twitter case ruling?
I just see myself as a simple human being with a profound deep belief that individuals can and should change our world. Nothing will ever change unless we are willing to be the change. Obama used this slogan: Be the change. He has indeed been the change from a savior to a puppet, he has changed all his promises into a trail of disappointment for those that supported him. In many ways this is great. It shows that no matter how great you are – you are never greater then your advisors and he has chosen all the worst advisors to be at his side. He has also shown that all his promises come cheap once he needs to live up to them. I like many others all over the world- watched him sworn in with tears of joy in my eyes. Those tears have become bitter a long time ago. His broken promises are too many to list and there are many great documentaries that go through them step by step. I say it is great that even the savior failed, because it has awakened many people to the bitter reality that Americans are no longer living in democracy but corporatocracy. It doesn’t matter who sits at the throne of power because it is an illusion. There are others far more powerful pulling the strings.
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