People are angry.
Across the world, protests are being mobilized by members of middle and lower class society around the idea of economic inequity. Perhaps this uprising will change something. Or maybe it will fizzle in a pool of acidic lies and insincere negoatiations, as we skulk back into our places. “But it was pretty bad ass at the beginning.” we’ll say. “Until the Italians got violent.”
Revolutions are beautiful, reckless things. Wrinkles in the fabric of time. I thought we’d had one in 2008, but all that did was piss off the dogmatic straight party ticket-punchers on the right for no real reason except ego. It’s ‘our team isn’t winning, so we’ll keep the other guys from doing anything helpful that might get them reelected’ think. And it’s this kind of recalcitrant thinking that keeps us from focussing on the kinds of things that might actually move our nation, and especially our people, forward. Things like a sincere effort to develop new energy; stabilizing and promoting equitable free trade worldwide; and investing in education. Yes, we have to pay for these things, and most won’t come to fruition during our lifetimes, but we can no longer afford to ignore them. This is America. Whether we realize it or not (and despite what European hipsters want us to think), we lead the way in Hope. Everyone on the planet looks to us as a model for how humans of all colors, religions and walks of life might actually get it right. If there’s going to be a global revolution for human rights or economic equity, it’s got to happen here.
Here’s the thing – these economic problems that affect us? They’re not new. I know you want to say it’s the President’s fault, but it’s not. Hell, it’s not even the last President’s fault. It’s ours. Collectively. We’ve been voting for how we want things to be, right? So maybe we’re all just fucked up? Even so, we have to take care of some things that are wrong. There is no way around this. And we have to pay for it somehow. So it seems only fair that the people who’ve benefitted the most from the way things are right now, resulting in the 99/1% argument, chip in their fair share. Right? Warrant Buffett recently said, “Actually, there’s been a class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class won. We’re the only ones that have gotten our tax rates reduced dramatically.” It’s time to end this class war. And it will end. Whether we like it or not.
Enter the roaring legions of people who were promised that if they got an education and worked hard, that this was the formula for the pursuit of happiness. It’s 2011, and I can say from direct personal experience, that this formula is an illusion. My wife is one of the top paralegals in the city of Charlotte and hasn’t had a raise in three years. It’s as if it’s just good enough to have a job now. I’ve personally been struggling for the last year with getting a startup company off the ground. No, it’s not easy to make it. Not now, not ever. And we don’t mind the idea of hard work and determination as a way to make it. Hell, it’s the only way we know. We don’t play the lottery. Unlike many of our parents, most people today have to work more than one job (each) just to have a life that’s fun and productive. I personally hate the idea of money. I’ve noticed that money tends to favor people who care less about others, and more about the idea of profit at any cost. Not that they work harder, but that they sell out easier. And there’s something wrong with that. I’m never going to sell out completely. And I don’t think most of the people who are rising up out of the rubble of broken dreams to stand united in their displeasure with the world’s current economic inequities are going to sell out, either.
There are some who believe that the #occupy people are all just entitlement brats who would do a lot better if they went out and got a job instead of complain. There are also some who fear that this uprising is the anarchistic tip of the socialism spear. And there are still others who dismiss the core #occupy leaders as clueless. Clueless to what? To how things work ‘in the system?’ I don’t think so. It’s the system that they’re upset with. I don’t get the feeling that the #occupy folks want there to be no rich people. Rather, they just want the rich to ante up to help us all, collectively, do better for each other. Not so that we can all have money, but so that we all recognize that we share this rock together and need each other. You can be capitalistic all you want – as long as you’re playing by fair rules. And while we’re at it, money shouldn’t influence politics either. I know I know, I’m dreaming with that one.
Money. When we give most of it to so few, what did we think was going to happen? Under the current global economic model, a handful of people might be able to sell out their lives enough to break through the glass ceiling into a place where their family is comfortable and their kids can graduate college without a ton of debt – but for most of us, well we’re just rowers on a boat, man. And we’re told that if we row harder, we’ll get bigger food rations and more frequent water breaks. That we’re damn lucky to be rowing at all, when we could be part of the flotsam that our ship slices through on the way to somewhere else.
Before you leave, spend the next 3:38 enjoying a speech written and performed by Charlie Chaplin that’s as relevant today as it was 70 years ago.