I came back from a walk around Auckland to write a piece about how much I like it here in New Zealand. I find everyone I meet to be really friendly, the food is tasty and there is something about the attitude that reminds me of Australia at its best; an Australia we seem to have forgotten how to be. I’m not naïve enough to think this place is perfect but there does seem to be a more positive attitude to the people I meet, more of a “can do” spirit than “can’t do” attitude we have adopted at home. Then I checked the news and saw that Steve Jobs is dead. I think Patton Oswalt summed it up perfectly: “Closest thing we had to Tony Stark”. I think we forget sometimes that we live in a time of technological wonder. We walk around with little machines that fit in our pocket and can connect to other tiny machines all over the world. We can touch screens and move images with the flick of a finger. We can talk to people in opposite hemispheres while walking to buy some milk. These dreamers who make the intangible into reality are often taken for granted by the common people. Regardless of personal bias Steve Jobs was a visionary who helped usher in a very different world, a world where we are all mad scientists with science fiction technology at our disposal. In reference to Jobs I think of the quote by Robert Kennedy: “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”
I would hope that Jobs left us never wondering why.
Meanwhile America and in particular New York have become a battlefield as the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations get ugly. Workers, college students, concerned citizens and members of unions have come together in the centre of New York’s financial district to voice their rightful concern about the unfairness of the US economy. While the average American suffers under the pressure of high unemployment and job insecurity bankers roll around in huge profits all under the guise of, “If we don’t do this the situation will be worst”. Try telling that to the father of three attempting to feed his family in Detroit. Try explaining that to the young couple in Seattle who just want to buy a house and start a family. Try consoling the single Mum who works three jobs just so her child will still have a fighting chance.
This is the good fight. This is the fight that needs to happen. It doesn’t have to be a war despite what the police seem to be turning it into over there. This is the opportunity to make those who live in ivory towers accountable for their greed and lack of character. A friend of a friend who works at Goldman Sachs talked about how they didn’t need bail out money but were given it anyway. Meanwhile people starve and feel a sense of existential terror. The future suddenly doesn’t seem scary due to war or environmental issues but instead it is more a sense of what is the point when the average Joe’s dream is taken away. What is that dream? To live the best life you can to the best of your abilities. Own a home. Have a family you can care and protect. Feel comfortable in the love of your friends and relatives. It really isn’t much to ask but those in positions of power will always make it difficult with their clever clever remarks and unjustifiable desire for more. I’ve been reading the ongoing commentary by friends Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny as they report from the centre of the movement, fascinated, inspired and hopeful nothing terrible will happen to them. One protester held up a sign reading, “Eat the elite”. Maybe not, they’d be all fat and gristly but surely they can help in the restoration of the world economy because no matter how much they deny it, they do live in the same world as us and that should make us all comrades in arms. The world is in turmoil and with a faint whiff of optimism I hope something good can come from this. I dream of things and ask why not?
October 6th, 2011