Talkin’ bout a revolution


Recently, the lyrics of folk singer Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ bout a Revolution” have been rolling through the air. “Don’t you know, talking ’bout a revolution sounds like a whisper…poor people gonna rise up and get their share, poor people gonna rise up and take what’s theirs.

As nature – and that includes human nature – seeks to right itself, we see that these are truly remarkable times. With a decidedly unstable and unequal world economy looming like a giant, threatening monster, people from many walks of life are taking action to bring everyday life back to balance. Yet it is the young people who are leading the charge. The baby boomers created a wave in the 1960s that shook society to its foundations and now it’s their grandchildren’s turn.

It happened in many of the Arab countries, the so-called Arab Spring. And, after the Vancouver-based publication, Ad Busters, called on the suffering to take a stand last month, Americans feeling the pain of a stalled economy took to Wall Street to call for an end to the culture of greed and cupidity that is eroding that country’s financial foundation.

With cries of “We are the 99 per cent”, that is, those not included in the one per cent of people who control 40 per cent of America’s wealth, hearts and minds are united in bringing about the kind of change that can only come from the ground up, from the grassroots.

One of the fascinating aspects of this now global movement – for the Occupations have taken hold in Italy, Spain, South Africa, Korea and France, as well as all across Canada and the U.S. – is the way this mass of people present themselves. They appear determined to be as democratic as is humanly possible.

As the mainstream tries to label this worldwide uprising, they are confounded. What is taking place does not fit the usual protest pattern. These protests don’t have ‘leaders'; they have representatives who speak on behalf of his or her group. Also perplexing is that the Occupiers don’t have ‘specific demands’.

What do these people want? becomes the question.

But the message is clear. They want the people whose greed is out of control to rein themselves in. They want people to ‘share and share alike’. They want their fair share. They want to be able to get up in the morning and go to work; to be able to afford decent shelter, and to live with dignity; to receive a fair wage for their labour, and not to have their efforts diminished by overpaying individuals who have no good reason for being outlandishly rewarded with many millions for mediocre job performances. They want people who make a lot of money from the labour and efforts of the many to pay a proportionally fair tax rate.

The problem with greed is that it is a human instinct out of control. We each have a desire to have enough of the basic necessities to provide a comfortable life. But the insatiable craving to have more is not unlike someone with an eating disorder, or any other addiction. We would have to understand that the people holding America ransom in their greed are essentially out of control money addicts. And anyone who has ever had to deal with a full-blown addict knows the kind of havoc they generate around themselves.

The 99-per-centers are in effect staging an intervention to get the greed under control. It’s a tall order because first the one-per-centers will have to admit they have a problem.

A note on finally giving in to the times…

Somewhere in the order of 24 million Canadians are mobile phone users. Among the remaining 10 million who have so far resisted getting on the mobile bandwagon, there are those for whom not owning one is a source of pride. A statement through non-participation that means essentially, ‘I will not get caught up in the hype.’ But the fact is that in just the same way that most of us cannot imagine functioning without any kind of phone, access to a mobile phone is now inexorably a way of modern life. All this to note that this week a few more diehards gave up and now carry around a music intoning device to tell their significant other, and everyone else within hearing range, that they’ll ‘be there in five minutes.’

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