"This fortress of well-being"

29 Apr 2012

Elizabeth Kiem for The Morning News:

Unlike past dissenters, today’s protesters reject the notion that they owe their welfare (be it good or bad) to the state (be it benevolent or corrupt). They have more to lose than their parents ever did – the freedom to travel, buy nice stuff, and berate the government from the confines of their well-furnished kitchens, fashionable cafes, and high-speed chatrooms – but today’s middle-class does not equate personal comfort with a functioning society.

We are responsible for our own destinies. It is not dishonest leaders nor the state itself that determine where we, as a people, shall go: it is the body politic, us, that is responsible for the fate of our nation. This is as true here in North America as it halfway across the world in Russia.

Bolotnaya and Occupy both point outward and declare, “the thieves are there,” but within the systems that we currently live there are always going to be thieves and there is always going to be corruption. If not Putin, then Medvedev. If not Wall Street, then Main Street. It is the problem most protest movements face: they aim at the rot and ignore the disease; they seek to attack an example and ignore the system that creates them, the society that creates them. It is easy to demand that others change things for you, but often has little effect; creating a community and shifting opinions is much more difficult, but can permanently transform a society.