Watching Van Jones makes me simultaneously angry and delighted (rebuildthedream.com). To be more clear, he gets me in touch with my rage by clearly articulating some of the fundamental problems and injustices we face, and offers a vision of a movement toward justice. I confess, I have a huge crush on this dude. He’s probably the most inspiring person from my generation. And listening to him, I’m beginning to grok why our generation always seems so despondent (not him, obviously, he’s found a way to optimism through his rage, but for people who aren’t quite at that level of brilliance…).
In my generation, we began to see the drift away from the American dream, wherein working harder and smarter was less and less tightly coupled with financial security. We were the first generation in a long time to see that money wasn’t an accurate reflection of effort and value, that the emperor had no clothes, that this fundamental underpinning of our culture was a lie. This was made clear as growth in “productivity” and corporate profits began to rapidly outpace the growth of wages in the 1980’s.
Jones says that one of the big lies is that “America is broke.” He doesn’t dig deep enough to the root lie, that money is real. But that’s okay. Asking the deeper question is a role for nerdy intellectuals such as myself, wondering how to reshape the culture for the coming century. This has to happen, all the time, to plant the seeds of the future. Jones is speaking to pragmatic truths for what to do today to get us through tomorrow, and we need that, all over, now. How many will hear? How many will be moved to action? How will this shape the months and years to come?