Is it true that everything has broken wide open in the past few years? Or is it just that I came out from under the rock that was once my home and actually began to pay attention?
Whichever the case, I promise you, it is too late for us to go back now. Oh, I’m not talking about the specific outcome of the election or of specific protest movements, as life-and-death as those things truly are. I’m talking about the entire spirit of change fueling this century so far. I’m talking about the fact that we’ve fucked up one too many times, we’ve missed one too many opportunities, and this time, climate change data means it’s almost certain this is our last chance to make anything right.
We have gone too far, too much has happened, to ever go back to the past. The pieces are strewn across the floor and there is no need to pick them all back up again. Things that have been exposed, things that are violently attempting to gain more power (they say that racism and fascism are going to die out with the older generation; they say that every new gain by the far right is just a death-gasp and it’ll be gone soon enough; they say we are beyond these things but then again that is what they said before Europe fell to the fascists too), need not be reincorporated as we try to put everything back together.
Why, when we speak of economic justice, are we looking to the past for inspiration? Why do we keep posting memes about what wages and cost of living were in the 1950’s? Why do we want to reset the clock, just because back then unions were powerful? Remember what else was powerful in the 1950’s? Remember how we got the white working class to all pull together for better benefits for themselves by trampling on black people wholesale? Do you realize that the way the white working class became the white middle class was by buying houses back when it was actually illegal for non-white people to own homes in nearly every neighborhood in America? Is this the baggage you want to carry along in your dream of rebuilding the middle class to what it once was?
It’s too late to turn back the clock.
If we cannot honestly examine where we are now, if we cannot openly discuss the harms of the security state, the unsustainability of paying people far less than they can live on, the murder of black people in the streets, the way that lawmakers are rolling back abortion rights, the fact that LGBT people can be legally discriminated against in most states, the rising tide of fascism and theocrats, what are we even doing? Instead of trying to turn back the clock to a time when the white middle class was upwardly mobile, we need to build a future. A future for the people who are here now. A future where the baby boomers will be cared for as they retire, and where millennials will have the opportunity to build the better world they dream of.
Millenials are visionaries. If you stop listening to the clean-cut white techbros who can only envision making profitable little gadgets for shareholders and entrepreneurbros who crank out infinite startups, you’ll get to the queer people, the people of color, the working class kids, the people who get out into the streets and into the makeshift studios in the garage and the people who blog furious nuggets of truth and who refuse to accept a status quo of injustice and oppression. These are the people who will create a better future not mired in the way things once were, but really hoping for what can be.
It’s too late to go back in time to an array of known variables and already chosen choices. Increasingly urgent is the choice we have today. Do we stand weakly by and let the fascists bully us down a road which will lead to unthinkable atrocities and death? Or do we gather together, build up a society which values community, collaboration, art, science and technology undertaken for the good of mankind, to heal, to invent, to reach out into the mysteries of the universe, stand side by side in solidarity and declare what we want this world to be?
People are making reality all the time. We see before us the reality that Trump supporters want to create, and it is horrifying. It’s too late not to participate. Create. Build. And stand fast against the fascists.