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What can a young citizen do?

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Message David Weiner

Last night I dreamed that a million ordinary young people of all sizes and shapes and genders and colors (a few of the 90% whose fathers AREN'T getting richer while most get poorer nowadays) marched – no, not on Washington, on Westchester County New York.

This locale includes one of the enclaves of the upper-class. Those to whom the rest of us are basically... well, pissants. In my dream this mass of nicely dressed, scrubbed and groomed young citizens arrived from many directions in a caravan of busses. They debussed in an orderly manner and waltzed into Westchester County. Tucked under each of their arms was – no, not a Gideon Bible, but a copy of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.

Before Westchester police realized what was happening, the first wave spread out and began knocking on doors. To every upper-class local under thirty they offered a People's History and a little speech. About what a shame it was that their parents deliberately empowered a president dedicated to trashing ordinary citizens, so that upper-class families could remain comfortable as the country faced various crises. Crises the upper-class had caused and that might logically make ordinary citizens mad at them. Citizens not very different from themselves, which became apparent as conversations with the visitors turned to music, the Daily Show, the Colbert Report and other peer related matters. Wouldn't it be better if upper-class elders would consider reaching out to their fellow citizens with a little decency, the visitors asked?

Many young Westchestrians were rather moved, in my dream. In spite of having been carefully and diligently socialized concerning the despicableness of ordinary citizens (pissants), they had not had a chance yet to behave really cruelly toward them. They were still dependent on their elders to lie, repress and persecute in order to maintain oligarchy behind a façade of justice and fairness. Actually, young Westchesterians were fairly innocent. Consequently, they still possessed some empathy and compassion for people they felt kinship with -- in spite of the training they had received. Some, in fact, felt so empathetic that they joined the visitors striding from door to door armed only with Zinn.

Before long, hordes of police arrived and begin bashing heads and breaking ribs, leaving rich people's lawns all bloody. Young upper-class men and women watched this mayhem more in horror than with approval, to their parents' deep chagrin. Bruised and battered visitors kept talking and offering Zinns --even while being dragged by the hair to waiting police vans -- as a second wave of visitors debussed. The now prepared police intercepted many, but the more they intercepted the more arrived.

On and on it went, in my dream, from dawn to dusk, day after day. Upper-class elders grew concerned. Those who formed the core and majority of the nation's Power Elite met in churches and mansions and clubs to discuss a potential social control crisis. Was it possible any longer to ensure that pissant oppression, repression and if need be extermination could be guaranteed to occur only outside of the boundaries of upper-class enclaves? Must they now physically enfortress themselves? What would this mean? How would their families feel? Life wouldn't be fun anymore.

They decided, at length, that the current situation was unacceptable. This was NOT the way things were supposed to be. Soon the incumbent president, whom they regarded as a factotum, began receiving angry phone calls and visitors, telling him to DO SOMETHING!

But the only something the Incumbent knew how to do was break heads, incarcerate and torture. Unfortunately, these techniques did not work well to deal with a mass of citizens who were not an angry, violent mob. But who WERE extremely well organized and ready to suffer a good deal in order to educate the people of Westchester County that whatever happened in the U.S.A. would happen to all.

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David Weiner has been a sociology professor, high school teacher, community organizer, and anti-racism activist for more than half a century. Nowadays he teaches sociology and social psychology at a community college.
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