Lots of buses pass the stop. Get on the wrong one and it won’t take you where you want to go. We all know this, which is why we grown-up, functioning members of society seem a little leery of a weaving bus with ganja smoke seeping through the windows, driven by consensus with no destination posted over its windshield.
Ya know what? Just get on the bus. You don’t get to drive (because honey, you didn’t crank the engine), but you can get somewhere right alongside the rest of the people who are tired of being worried about getting smashed flat by vampires in limousines.
Somebody finally managed to shine some daylight through the smoked glass of those limos, and revealed what we all knew was true: they’re not exactly there to give us eternal life.
Or “create jobs.” Two TRILLION dollars of capital are locked up by economic Übermenschen who are clearly uninterested in making a dent in your 9.1 percent unemployment. They don’t eat cake (that’s for the little people). They eat jobs. They chew up benefits. They thrive on unpaid overtime, uncompensated “employee-contributed assets” and unpaid internships.
It’s not your blood, to them. It’s their livelihood. It’s just business, and while you were grinding away at it, head down and praying to make the next mortgage payment without losing your health insurance by getting sick, your kids noticed that SOMETHING IS WRONG.
They started asking rude questions, and when they got no valid answers from the government or from business or from US, they cranked up the bus and started down the road to… somewhere.
You gonna just stand there and wave goodbye? You gonna hope the limo guys stop to give you a lift? Wait until it’s a full-on demolition derby?
If you take that last option, you’d better pray the kids let you on the bus. They’re likely to mow down every limo they can spot, and it wouldn’t be very surprising if a few minivans became collateral damage.
Let’s do something moderate, adult and right now: support the people downtown. They’re either in your town or the nearest big city, persistently asking the question we should have asked over the past 30 years or so, the same questions Presidents Eisenhower and even Washington asked: will we sign over our constitutional republic to a one-dollar, one-vote board of directors?
The revolutions of your lifetime — some of them, anyway — have come about as the tide of public opinion and awareness was served by increasing ambient information, viz. the “Fax Machine Revolution” that overthrew half of the extant superpowers (remember the USSR? China does); Tahrir Square and its dense population of smart phones; underground newspapers in the Sixties; etc. Memetic thought seems to operate on a watershed principle, wherein awareness finally reaches a saturation level that starts to seep into the consciousness even of those otherwise preoccupied with maintaining server farms, opening the bakery and walking the beat.
You know, folks like you. And me. “We the People.”
Things not only CAN change, they DO change. The gay rights movement is the best recent example here in the U.S.A. Remember 20 years ago, when you could beat a faggot down and tell the judge that he’d made you “nervous?” Once upon a time, gay bashing got a pass. Now his infantry squad mates — or his husband — might just beat YOU down. Things change. People change them.
People like you. And me. People who hopefully still have enough backbone to stand up to power when it’s run amok.
“Stepping up” doesn’t have to mean grabbing your gun — or even a sign — and heading for the front lines of culture clash. It’s not the Zombie Apocalypse (although it’s interesting to observe how dominant that meme has become). Social and political change are ongoing processes, not exclusively black & white (or blood red) contrasts. Society doesn’t operate on an A-B switch, where one day we’re happy in our homes and the next day we’re running through the ditches with knives in our teeth, trying to overthrow the tripod alien overlords. Those are shorthand metaphors, convenient to fantasy.
Are we really satisfied to sit back and wait until we have to count our ammo? News flash: the army has more ammo than all of us put together — and that’s just the small arms. Ever seen what happens to folks who get into gunfights with tanks? I have, and I’m recommending that we work on finding a way to force some of that $2 trillion to trickle down through wages, rather than attempting to take it by force. Maybe we should have started earlier, thinking about that, but it will never again be earlier than now.
Falling back on the satisfaction of a vengeful fantasy doesn’t solve much. Neither does insisting on getting your head cracked with a nightstick. History won’t remember that with a Purple Heart; it will castigate everyone around you as a “mob” instead of a persistent majority, animated by the desire to form a more perfect union.
Doing small things — talking to your friends, daylighting good and ill on your FB page, making some coffee for the protesters, encouraging your stay-home neighbor to vote — may seem like very small splashes in a very big pond. They are, but I’m gonna do my one small thing anyway.
I’ve got NOTHING to lose by inconveniencing myself a little, by putting myself out there a little bit — and neither do you. Get your butt off the stool.
Am I a dilettante protester? Sure. The bourgeois always are. I’m not a homeless stumbler (yet) or a college student (anymore) or unemployed (exactly), so I don’t sleep on the pavers downtown. But G-d damn it, I’m glad somebody does. I’m glad someone is willing to stand in the hot face of the comet, and let me be the tail this time around. There are always more soldiers on the FOB than out in Strykers, more Coast Guardsmen welding hulls and filling out forms than crewing cutters.
We are ~300,000,000 Americans, currently dominated by a plutocracy of a few hundred very wealthy men who pull the strings. Dollars aren’t the only numbers that matter. Three hundred million small things constitutes an historic effort by anyone’s measure.
You can’t slug it out and expect to win. You can make them listen, though. You can force them, at long last, to decency. Washington’s paymasters will only think themselves above the law until Congress and the President — and even the Supremes — realize that we’re paying close attention.
That we’re following the money. That we realize “trickle-down” is quite unequal to “vacuum up.”
Sitting it out until the gunfight at the OK Corral is a comfy way of saying the water isn’t that hot and the cooking smell isn’t your froggy little legs. Why do old liberals who decide that they won’t play until it’s full-on revolution imagine that the kids way out ahead of them are going to suddenly put them in charge?
Or that any one citizen will “dominate the battlespace” unaccompanied, based on their personal 9mm badassery? Sorry, but if any of us believe that, we’re acting a lot less grown-up than those kids with the ear gauges and handmade placards.
It takes much more than that, much more than one man or woman can accomplish. We don’t need kickass antiheroes patrolling the outback in their Main Force Patrol Interceptors. We need people willing to bestir themselves to demand better from their government than kowtowing to a “biggest wallet wins” model of bought speech.
We need you, and we need you now.
Do one small thing. I’ll join you with my one small thing. I’ve got your back, for no better reason than you and I struggle under the same regime. I wouldn’t move to a Third World country, and I’m impatient with the idea of my country moving to a Third World economic distribution.
Do one small thing.
E pluribus unum was meant to describe citizens, not massed phalanxes of dollars.
Do one small thing and do it now, before the kids stop waving their signs and start throwing things, and get every single one of us in the 99 Percent dismissed as vandals and hoodlums.
Do one small thing.