It has been said that describing the American experience as being at the mercy of anything is to give in, to invite patriarchy. To believe that forces larger than the collective of the citizenry control our fates for good or ill encourage hopelessness, and metaphors of parents (which conservatives and religious leaders seem to like overly well). This may be generous- because feeling powerless and recognizing forces larger than oneself are also a form of realism, grim as it can be. Also, it seems these are the first steps to action, to reacting, and to resisting. Not just in the ways of adolescents, but in ways that are methodical, well thought out, and effective as resistance.
It seems in our current moment most of us are caught between descriptions and forces of extremes in politics, economics, and other facets of life. We have become again faceless masses others like to speculate about, and use for their purposes. Even, it seems, with a new populist media/technology of tweets, Face and Space ramblings, and blogs- have we become still more invisible? It sounds like a paradox, but it is not. Listen to several different objects at once, and it all becomes white noise. When a stronger signal breaks through, it is all we can hear. That a limited amount of people control stronger signals is simply fact. That we can become seduced by the plethora of information, disappear down rabbit holes of specificity that appeal to any current emotion and interest is the new soma. George Orwell had the date and substance wrong, but in general I think he was right.
The film The Matrix comes to mind, a metaphor for waking up from our collective pervasive delusions. Is revolution truly fomenting as some of late have claimed? Or are we the stepchildren of warring parents, ostensibly being protected and shut into rooms, not seen, not heard? The uber rich dine with religious extremists; if an apocalypse is coming they simply hole up, drink up, and toast to the end. What becomes of anyone else is not their concern, and justifiable by pointing blame out to those they refuse to see.
We do not seem to feel a basic strength that would help make positive change- our very collective humanity. Kinship with people different than we are by nationality, class, or any other category seems antithetical to the current paths of anger, mistrust, defensiveness, and blame that are popular. Workers who fought for unions at the height of the most egregious corporate abuses knew that kinship was key. Humanism is a force for good, not to be vilified. Without it, we fracture and fall. The signers of the Declaration of Independence knew this. The figure known as Jesus Christ knew this. Mohammed knew this. Buddha knew this. Mother Theresa knew this. Artists, musicians, poets and philosophers have known this. Scientists know this.
When will those of us in the middle recognize it, stop talking about it, and actually act collectively on this knowledge for a greater good? I think expecting elected leaders, business moguls, and celebrities to do it is not only passing the buck, but will only frustrate.
What this means can be manifested in multiple ways. Maybe they will not all be strictly compatible, maybe well see a cobbled together set of actions that overlap, a messy vision in action that is dramatically different than what we have now. Driven by collective humanity that is not drugged, not locked away, and willing to broker a different reality.
Hope must spring eternal.