What did you do in the class wars, Mommy?

October 16, 2011

Filed in: The Home Front, The Way We Live Now

When I was a junior in high school, everyone in the honors history class had to write a term-long in-depth research paper. Always someone to bite way more than she could chew, I picked “The 60s” as a topic (a wee bit unfocused, no?).

Really what I was interested in was the cool-looking summer-of-love hippies-n-dope stuff, but as I researched along, it dawned on me, really for the first time, that these people had all been around the same age as my parents.

“Why didn’t you march in the streets against the Vietnam War!” I demanded of my mother. She just shrugged. She had babies, a husband with shaky job prospects, a job as a night nurse. She was an adult; she didn’t have time to protest.

I live in fear that someday my kids will ask, “Why weren’t we marching in the streets as the world economy collapsed?” and I’ll have to utter the sentence, “I Tweeted about it!” In my darkest Armageddon moments, I do feel like we’re all wasting an extraordinary amount of time Facebooking and blogging and Tweeting and LinkingIn rather than doing something, even though, as a user of social media, yes I get that all those things can help foster change and civil action blah blah.

Still, I felt guilty and sad that I didn’t make time to head over to Occupy Boston yesterday, a day where people around the world managed to rearrange their domestic lives to get out there and make a statement. I know some people think Occupy Wall Street is unfocused and lacking in direction (my favorite, one sign seen in Boston, and likely elsewhere, that goes along the lines of, “It’s not that we’re unorganized; it’s that there’s a lot of problems to fix").

But even if nothing else comes of it, OWS has already worked because it makes people like me feel less alone. It’s been a tough few years, reading the headlines, scraping along, our economic situation getting a teeny bit worse day by day (all the while knowing both that there are many many people far worse off than we are but also, there’s that top 1% that’s far far better off). I feel less crazy knowing that I’m not the only one to be sick over the consolidation of wealth this past decade; it’s energizing and inspiring to know some people are so outraged they’re willing to put their lives on hold to make the point physically.

I didn’t make any points physically yesterday. Instead, T and I went ahead with our dinner plans, hosting two couples who aren’t likely in the 1% but probably the top 2% or 3% (oh Swellville), then, after we’d plied them with way too much wine, loudly debated the merits of bailout vs. stimulus.

So in answer to the question, “What did you do in the class war, mommy?” my answer is, “Why, I harangued unsuspecting dinner guests.” That’s my freak flag, and I’m waving it proudly.

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