It's surprising to think because few of us feel that power. As individuals we largely feel powerless to stand against the titans of industry and holders of high office, but every one of them draws their status from us. They amass it one dollar or one vote at a time.
They spend fortunes to stay one step ahead of us to determine what package we'll buy in a product or a politician, every resource available is focused on guessing what we need to hear or see to make that shift from our hands to theirs.
It has been a long time since we ordinary people have felt our own sense of power. There was a time in my youth when we all felt it. It wasn't all good, revolutionary change seldom is.
it was a time filled with turbulence and strife, where the struggle for power was as palpable as the hormones raging in the corridors of a high school. The identical seductive lure of the forbidden, holding some ultimately satisfying reward, drew us with a force that was more primal than premeditated.
Cities burned and small towns were torn between the comfort of what had always been and the unknown of what might be. It was in the news, in the music, there was a current in the streets that was at once electrifying and uncertain. The status quo was coming undone on every front.
To some it seemed the very fabric of society was being torn apart but for those who had been left out, without a voice or a chance to cross an invisible barrier it seemed like a chance to weave a new patchwork of inclusiveness and equality.
The rifts were everywhere, between the adults and the youth, the blacks and whites, the establishment and the anti-war protesters, the feminists and the chauvinists, it was within each of us as people. As Americans we were forced to collectively look at who we were as a people and what that offered to us as individuals.
It was an environment that begged or forced us to do soul searching to ask what we believed in for ourselves and our future, then challenged us to go commit ourselves to that goal with the faith that believing was enough.
The spirit of that time drifted away like the incense we burned; a scent that was a mix of blood and sweat, passion and abandon was replaced with scented sprays dispensed from night lights. A whole generation of Americans have never known their own power.
We have bequeathed them a culture of credit, where dreams are downloaded and what remains of the anthems for a new way have been transformed to commercials for new credit, new investments, new moods, new corn syrup drinks, with something added that promises to give a body what it needs for a better you if only you trust in the fantasy.
What we looked for then was a faith in ourselves to go make a different vision a reality. We gained confidence as leaders of every stripe inspired us to trust in ourselves, to make the dreams of a better tomorrow a reality.
So much was done with that enthusiasm, both Herculean challenges and little modifications. We put a man on the moon and brought our troops home from a war, integrated our schools and gave women the right to play school sports, toxic chemicals were outlawed and we began to clean our fetid National waterways so that life could return where there had been nothing but death for too long.
It seemed nothing was impossible and nothing we fought for in numbers was not better for our efforts. Our government saw a shift of power too as our faith became tied to accountability. The Freedom of Information Act and oversight legislation gave us the right to know what we were paying for and to have a way to demand that those who were sworn to serve us in office weren't serving other aims.
We Impeached a President and protected the integrity of the highest office in the land then went on to launch a revolution in technology that would usher in an information.
Buoyed by our faith in the rightness of our path, we watched welcome changes creep across the landscape of America. Women and minorities went from oddities to common sites on the campuses and at construction sites, in corporate offices, careers, professions and posts that had never welcomed them before.
By the numbers the news was of slow steady improvement, opportunity had replaced opposition and the focus went from all of us, to each of us with individual goals.