A lot of people have been asking “what do the protesters want.” I think I know. They want the new age and they want it now, not in some mythical future that never happens but right here in our lifetimes.
What does that mean? Crazy as it sounds, I think people really do want peace, love, and prosperity for all. They’re tired of hearing about choices and how this is the best we can do so be happy with what you got. Like Oliver Twist, they are daring to ask for more than just the grim status quo.
But it goes way beyond ideals.
People are sick of the way money allows those who have it to tyranize our world.
People are tired of mechanized systems that force everyone to fit into a prefab mold, whether its education, healthcare, or the job market.
People are tired of the racking divide between left and right, us and them, and the increasingly wide difference between the very rich and everyone else.
They’re tired of the inequities of a system that forces them to pay more and more for basic items like healthcare, food, housing, insurance, higher education, and pretty much everything else — while seeing their own spending power dwindle year by year.
I think the protesters (and many people) would like to live in a world where archaic and even barbaric practices such as war, torture, murder, and thievery are not carried out at the state level, or any level for that matter.
I think people are tired of surveillance. We’d like our freedom back, to know that we can move about in our lives without having our every action recorded, documented, and archived in keyword-searchable databases.
People care about the world itself, our land, air, and water. We love nature and fret about the extinction of species. We regard large-scale events such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico or the tsunami and nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima as disasters and want to avoid such catastrophes in the future.
We want to live sustainably. We want to live satisfying lives. Most of us don’t want or expect to become rich, but just to live decently and to enjoy the simple pleasures life has to offer. And above all, we don’t want to sacrifice our own future happiness to pay back debts incurred by greedy rich people who made bad choices, and have been, perversely enough, compensated for them.
Barack Obama may not have known it, but what a lot of people were hoping for when he talked about “change you can believe in” in 2008 was some form of the above — a new era and a new approach, in which people were put before their corporate counterparts and the rich took a back seat to the common good.
That did not happen, alas, but people have not stopped wanting it, which is why they’re out in all the towns and all the cities, occupying parks and forming committees. They’re tired of the old system. They want a new one.
Here in Brattleboro, people have been working at inventing that new system for a long time. There are folks here doing time trade, agriculture, green energy, and small-scale manufacturing. We live in a region where community actually means something and where folks try to support each other in times of need.
Brattleboro is still in the real world and the real world still runs on money. But if people power ever comes into demand, Brattleboro should be well-situated to handle whatever the new paradigm throws at us. Whether the rest of the country is able to make that switch is another matter. But they want it, and who knows what might happen if enough people put their collective desires together for the good of all.