I was recently talking with a friend, and a phrase mentioned was, “Think about what other people want, and think about what you have to give.”
I’m gearing up to sell this book of mine and having a really hard time, because I’m convinced that this is something people want, but it’s not as simple as, “people want to have a good time,” or “people want a tasty meal.”
We’re in post-Occupy era. Occupy as, the former framework around which many left-leaning young people organized our politics and structured our sense of social purpose. You didn’t have to be part of Occupy to have been part of the Occupy era — it suffused the air.
People are trying to change the world, people trying to grow and improve themselves, supporting freedom, supporting justice, helping their communities. Running into obstacles both personal and systemic. There’s a lot of anxiety and anger around are we doing the right things, are we doing enough, are we able to do enough. Fatigue and hope, courage and confusion. Joy, lots of joy, and on its heels, if we’re lucky, doubt.
The joy of Occupy was in the overarching, integrated story of struggle in the tent cities. Where politics united and clashed in blazes of passion too quick for understanding, but we were there in the trenches, even if we didn’t pitch tents, we existed, not separately but together. Then months passed, and we petered out not fully understanding each other, but the conversations had begun.
Now, years later, we’re yearning to figure out where those conversations would have gone, and why. There’s a lot of great work being done on the ground, but not a whole lot of overarching story or integration to bring us all back to a single thought framework again – back to the conversation happening every day. We are in limbo, trying to catch a groundswell to find our place in something bigger than ourselves again.
No one person can create a groundswell. When enough people build on each other’s thoughts and stories, social alchemy begins to happen, and pretty soon we’re in the streets again, re-framing the conversation again, while the world rushes to try and keep up. Because we’re not just parroting a party line, we’re coming up with slogans on our own because we’re building off the same sense of understanding how and why the world is fucked up, then putting our own spin on it.
Sure, my book is a great piece of escapist writing, a romp with a strong plot arc; sure, it’s a character piece centered on a badass revolutionary woman of color; sure it’s got cool technology and AI and green buildings and robots. But my gift, where “what people want” intersects with “what I have to give” is in this:
People want to think towards a unifying framework again, but Occupy had its time. It was part of the invisible discourse that binds us. It is toward this invisible discourse that my book encourages thought.