by Susan Rosenthal
After exposing the horrors of the American medical system, Michael Moore concludes his documentary, SiCKO, by asking, “Who are we, that we allow such suffering?” When Moore appeared on Oprah’s talk show, she turned to the television audience and repeated the question.
Naomi Klein poses the same question. Her book, The Shock Doctrine, documents how the people in power engineer catastrophes and exploit natural disasters to profit a few. How awful! Who are we, that we tolerate such injustice?
Capitalists and their supporters reply, “Human nature is brutal and cannot change.” They want to keep the door shut on any discussion of who we are and the kind of society we could have. As far as they are concerned, we are their creatures and should remain so. We labor to enrich them. We suffer and die to build their empires. That’s who they want us to be.
Who decides who we are? Moore and Klein and a growing number of activists are saying, “We decide who we are.” And so the revolution begins.
Who do we want to be?
Studies show that people value kindness more than any other characteristic. Compassion in thought, word and deed is universally appreciated regardless of nationality, culture or religion. By acknowledging kindness as the highest human value, we define who we are and the type of world that we want.
Most people want to live in a compassionate and sharing world, a giving-and-forgiving world, a help-each-other-out world, an all-for-one-and-one-for-all world, democratically managed by all of us, for all of us.
A truly democratic society can remake itself in any way it chooses. As Klein points out, the idea that people should not have the power to decide how the economy functions “is and remains the single most anti-democratic idea of our time.”
The capitalists don’t want a compassionate world or a democratic world. There would be no profit in it. They want more and bigger weapons, more prisons, more surveillance and more repression to keep their power growing and their profits flowing.
When millions of people question this arrangement, when they begin to ask, “Who are we?” then the days of the oppressors are numbered.
We are the majority, and we can change the world. We lack confidence because we are divided. But we can change that. We can organize. Together, we can free ourselves from this heartless hell of capitalism. There could be no act of compassion greater than that.