What’s the number one reason we riot? The plausible, justifiable motivations of trampled-upon humanfolk to fight back are many—poverty, oppression, disenfranchisement, etc—but the big one is more primal than any of the above. It’s hunger, plain and simple. If there’s a single factor that reliably sparks social unrest, it’s food becoming too scarce or too expensive. So argues a group of complex systems theorists in Cambridge, and it makes sense.
I wish there could be a redistribution of resources where they are most needed, instead of riots that will end in the deaths of many innocent people just trying to live, just trying to eat.
But so far first world wishing hasn’t got it there. Nor has first world action, or at least no serious action has been attempted. No significant mass of first world people has mobilized in horror at the dead and dying. No authoritarian, autocratic, unaccountable corporate tyranny is ever going to lift a finger without someone breaking every bone in their hand and tearing the damn finger straight off. One year away? I hope it’s tomorrow. I hope it’s today. I hope it’s right this second. And I hope it ends quickly, with a minimum of bloodshed. I hope people in the first world see it happening, unfiltered, through citizen journalists and independent sources because of the internet. I hope their immediate reaction is not fear for their own lives, or fear for the stability of their comfort, but compassion.
But most people do know what’s going on. Most people choose to put their fingers in their ears (or their earbuds) and slide hands over their eyes (or 3D glasses) rather than put their money, their voice and more importantly their bodies and souls into the service of those most hurting. Those most hungry. So I guess there’s going to be bloodshed. And the hungry will meet guns, uncaring of the consequences because what do they have to lose? And we, who have so much shit that we think we have a lot to lose, we will lose everything whether we like it or not, as well we should.
Until then, let’s try and make a difference as best we can under the current system of things. Though doors may be shut by politicians, bankers, the ultra-rich and bloated corporate entities every time we want to help, though our neighbours may shut themselves indoors and zone out on their electronics while we’re out in the street, let’s try anyway. Pick ourselves up and go at it again, and again, and again. Because we’re not starving. Because we’re not subject to forced labour and modern-day slavery. Because we’re not being killed indiscriminately.
What else are you doing, Marie Antoinettes of the iPad, George Bushes of the HD 3D TV, Neros and Caligulas of the LP with bonus FLAC download code? Gonna let them eat cake, declare mission accomplished, fiddle while the world burns? See how that situates you a decade from now. If compassion can’t motivate your high and mightyness, what about fear? I don’t care what your motivation is, so long as hunger is abolished as quickly as possible (and it is possible very quickly if we restructure our economies compassionately and flip the bird at the sputtering protests of corporations and capitalists).
Write your politicians, sure. But try and find out what activist action is going down in your city. Participate. Participate without needing to be in the spotlight. Do not let your ego sink you into drama, and be active. If you don’t know where to look, you don’t know how to use Google. Type your city’s name and anti-poverty in there, for starters. Events, meetings, marches, solidarity movements, protests and other activism opportunities will appear before your eyes as if by fucking magic. And if these events conflict with your work schedule? On the websites notifying you of these events, click the “contact” link and ask what you can do to help, given your schedule. Maybe all you can do is donate and shirk a bit of work during the day to do some e-slacktivism to get the word out to people who can attend. But even then, keep your eyes peeled for things you can do, request important protest days off work, and stop criticizing people and movements unless you’re inside the movements suggesting the corrections that you know oh-so-well will patch up those problems. No solutions? Shut the fuck up and help out, and keep your solutionless whining to yourself.
Or, I guess you could go buy that iFiddle and wait for the flames to lick your feet. Something to think about, anyway. Something I’m definitely thinking about, anyway.