I’m sitting here looking out my window. It’s cold and gray, and the woods look depressingly empty of life. The news is on, but I’m not paying full attention. I’m sad. I’m scared for the next few days in my country. I’m sad about the past four years. And actually the four before that. And going back even further.
I’m remembering the days of Occupy Wall Street, when thousands of people felt so cheated by the economic and governmental systems of the US that they took to the streets to protest. There were huge crowds of angry people blocking banks and businesses, demanding a fair chance. Demanding a share of the profits that Wall Street and its investors were reaping.
They were called leftists. Radicals. Socialists. Anarchists. What motivated them to protest was their belief that no matter how hard they worked, they’d never be able to get to an economically secure place in life.
The past several years we’ve seen more and more anger from people who are called “right wing” and “reactionary”. They’re labeled as racist, white supremacist, fascist, radical. This past week we were all horrified to see that rage erupting into a violent assault on the government and our elected leaders.
What are they so furious about? They feel like they aren’t being treated fairly by the economic and government systems. They feel like their lives are insecure. Like what they are entitled to have is being kept from them. They think they’re being cheated. They feel like no matter how hard they work, they’ll never be able to get to an economically secure place in life.
And it has all got me thinking.
What if everyone had a reliable income? I mean, like what if the minimum wage was actually enough for people to live on and to take care of a family? What if a person could work 40 hours a week and earn enough for food and rent?
And what if everyone could go through life knowing that if they get sick they can go to the doctor? What if parents knew that they would definitely be able to pay for a trip to the emergency room if their son broke his arm? If Americans, like people in nearly every other country on earth, got health insurance guaranteed, I wonder how that would impact the fear of losing a job?
I’m sitting here thinking. What if every single kid was able to dream of college? What if even poor kids in small rural towns knew that as long as they got good grades, they’d be able to afford college? What if that motivating dream was actually out there in front of every child, instead of just the wealthy one?
I know what you’re thinking. I’m a radical. A damn socialist. A leftist.
I just wonder if some of the rage that is tearing us apart would dwindle down in a country with less inequality. I wonder if we’d be less likely to attack each other if we weren’t afraid for ourselves and our families.
Given everything that has just happened here, maybe we should at least try it.