A Treatise on Modern Discontent
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands,” the 99% must take to the streets and to the Tweets.
It seems like we have reached a great precipice in human history. In the past couple of years we have witnessed revolts in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Bahrain just to name a few.
Someone asked me the other day: “What’s that country where all the people are revolting?”
“Throw a dart at a map,” I said.
In the United States, the seeds of discontent have flourished in the forms of protests, sit-ins and live-ins. We now refer to this grassroots movement as Occupy Wall Street, but the protests have spread to Chicago, Nashville, Denver, Washington D.C., and “the hood.” (And of course, Chapman.)
Since armed rebels haven’t run amok on Wall Street, it may seem slightly hyperbolic to compare the United States to Libya and Iran. But despite the glaringly obvious differences between these countries, they share a common yearning for institutional reform. We share their spirit.
Some try to discredit the Occupy movement as a group of societal misfits who trumpet a muddled message. The criticism comes mostly from those who say we’re uninformed and apathetic. The Occupy protests prove that this generation cares about civic participation and the welfare of the country.
As for a message? You don’t need a campaign platform to understand that this country is fucked up. Instead of chasing the American Dream, we now chase American Survival…Human Survival. We want a better quality of life.
If you asked a protestor what they wanted, they would probably say: a job. At the bare minimum, they would want their three jobs to generate enough income to pay their bills. Sometimes there’s beauty in the simplicity of the message.
This is a Howard Beale moment. We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!
Postscript: I can’t ignore the irony of the quote I used to start this treatise. In 2011, the quote’s author, Thomas Jefferson, would likely be characterized as what call a one-percenter. Don’t get me wrong! I love me some Jefferson. I’m all about that Louisiana Purchase, but if that quote were written today, it would probably endure various legal and public relations scrutiny and sound a lot like this:
“The top 1 percent of New Yorkers pay over 40 percent of all income taxes, providing huge benefits to everyone in our city and state,” said some jerkoff hedge-fund manager.