In Network, Sidney Lumet's brilliant movie about corporate evil, one of the main protagonists, network anchorman Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch (who won a posthumous academy award for his performance) goes on national TV and declares, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore."
Even though those words were uttered by an unbalanced character in a movie, that now-iconic line has come to represent how we feel when we've reached our breaking point. Yet how true are those words today for the people who are occupying Wall Street?
In Egypt they got "mad as hell," and overthrew President Mubarak's regime, and recently in Libya they became "mad as hell," about Gaddafi's evil dictatorship, so much so that the world watched as he was beaten and killed live on TV, and everyone cheered and took pleasure in his death.
With the advent of social networking, it's now much easier when you're "mad as hell and don't want to take this anymore," to either join a protest yourself about economic inequality, corporate greed and corruption, or virtually encourage followers like the Internet group "Anonymous," and watch it happen all over the world. Dylan was right: "The times they are a changing."
So what took us so long in this country to get this mad that we didn't want to take it anymore? Not since thousands of people protested the Vietnam war or the Washington D.C. riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., can I remember so much disgust and anger displayed publicly and on such as massive scale, until, that is, the power of the Internet and social networking evolved, allowing for everyone, with a few keystrokes, to have a voice. Now, through Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube, anyone can have their public "mad as hell" moment. You can make your rage be known to millions of people around the world, and they can join you, and collectively do something about it like create a revolution together. Together we can effect change, right? But why should it take thousands of people to be senselessly murdered in Egypt or Libya, or have a deeply troubled economy with millions of people unemployed in our country, many of them having lost their homes and jobs, before we do something about our glaring problems or tyrannical leaders?
There's a saying that goes, "One man with courage makes a majority." Speaking up when you're "mad as hell" about something that matters is crucial, whether you're going to start a revolution about it or not. Like Howard Beale, he was still just one man who spoke up, and wasn't afraid to do it. So how can each and every one of us take a stand when we're "mad as hell and aren't going to take this anymore" and let it be known that we are intolerant of any kind of disparity without waiting for the other person to do it first?
First of all we have to start with just not taking it, period. We don't have to wait until we're "mad as hell" to act on something we're disgusted or outraged about. If each one of us doesn't speak up and oppose whatever it is that is wrong, be it inequality, greed, corruption, prejudice, bullying, hatred, dictatorship or whatever it is that keeps us stuck in passivity, ignorance or a feeling of futility, then we are allowing for the problem to drag on, growing until it becomes the very monster we long to defeat.
Why wait at all if we're "mad" when we can do something while it's happening before the monster destroys us first? There are so many enormous problems to fix right now, from the economic inequality to a planet in peril because we didn't fix these problems when we could have, and we have nobody to blame but ourselves.
Howard Beale was just one man with courage and was his own "majority." He did something about the injustice and corruption he was facing by himself because he had to. It was "him against them" as opposed to an "us against them." He wasn't someone planning a revolution, he just merely spoke the truth, and because this was a movie, it ended up being an incredible ratings success for the network, because people ultimately wanted to watch a man who told the real truth to the people of America. I would imagine if Howard Beale were around today, he would have garnered millions of Twitter followers, or had his YouTube video go viral.
However we get the message out, the bottom line is we must all have our Howard Beale moments: speak up and oppose the liars, fraudsters, and wrongdoers who manipulate others for control and avarice, and not wait until we're "mad as hell and can't take this anymore," because sometimes that's just too late.