What do you want? 

What if someone came up to you and offered you that sublime idea…anything in the world you could possibly want? What would your answer be? 

It’s the old Genie in a bottle thing. Would you wish for wealth? Success? Health? More years to live? The ability to right some wrongs? Would you wish for world peace? What about a change in your current government? Would you actually waste a wish from a Genie on something as stupid as government? 

Almost nobody gives that answer. Because when it comes down to the truth of hopes, dreams, and actual wishes, we are not all that interested in what happens to other people…even if we say we are. 

The history of the west is entirely about human freedom: how much of it should we have? How much should be contained (or even restrained)? Can we govern ourselves? When does that self-governance infringe on someone else’s ability to self-govern? 

In short, what do we want?

That’s pretty much the entire story of the last thousand years or so. And we’re still in the middle of telling it. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the final outcome is actually still in doubt. 

Our place in the world, as it exists now, requires us to deep dive into these questions time and time again. The very nature of freedom should be at the top of everyone’s thinking cap, these days. Because even in 2023, somebody is out there lurking, making a list of the things you say and do, checking it twice, and making up their mind that you probably shouldn’t be able to say or do all of that. 

And if they can just get the reigns of power, they will make sure to pull those freedoms from you. 

Which freedoms? Well, it all depends on who you ask. 

For some people it’s the freedom to marry someone of the same sex. For others, it’s the possibility of continuing to cook with a gas stove. And for others, still, it’s the freedom to terminate an unborn life growing inside them. 

Freedom looks different to different people, I suppose. 

But make no mistake…you should have a clear idea of what you want, when it comes to government. That’s the experiment we’re all participating in right now. 

I’ve said many times, that I don’t march. For anything. In my lifetime, I’ve never seen a cause I cared enough about to press myself together with ten thousand other people and go for a loud walk. 

My father marched in civil rights marches, in the 60’s. That may have been something I would’ve been passionate about, had I been alive. But most of the time, I see a march or a protest and know for a fact that it is mainly window dressing and theater and nothing real will come out of it.


Because most of the time, marches and protests aren’t led by someone as special in history as MLK. Most of the time they’re led by overachieving loud mouths who know how to manipulate a crowd but not how to bring about any real substantive change in the area they’re all up in arms about. 

And when I see a movement that has no end goal (or remedy), I know I’m probably watching more of a grift than a grass roots movement. 

MLK’s movement culminated in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Real legislation. That tackled actual, systemic abuses. And the systemic part got remedied. 

Did it end racism? Of course not. Did it fix everybody’s lives. Again, ridiculous. But at least there was a goal in mind, when starting that walk across the bridge in Selma. 

In 2014, Hillary Clinton was confronted by some leaders in the BLM movement. It’s all on video somewhere. To her credit, she asked them point blank, “What do you want?” 

That’s someone in actual power posing the Genie question. 

And you know what? They didn’t have an answer. 

It all just kept circling back to general complaints about the way things are, and how things should change, and how now is the time, and how silence in violence, and, and, and…

But the world can’t move in a direction when there isn’t one available. 

If you have children, you’ve experienced this with an overtired baby. They don’t know what they want. They just know they don’t like things as they are now. So you spend the rest of the time changing them and feeding them and rocking them and reading to them and leaving them alone and, and, and…

It’s exhausting. 

This past week, Antifa (stands for “Anti-Fascist” which I’m almost certain they don’t actually know the meaning of the word “Fascist”…but I digress) protested and rioted and spray painted on buildings and, and, and…in Atlanta. 

I’d probably be willing to listen to someone in Antifa, but they’re always covering their faces and running around in stealth and basically doing as much violence as they can get away with. 

And let’s just be honest…

When the masks eventually come off, the mug shots are almost always disaffected white kids, with some weird ax to grind. 

And I always want to go up to them and simply ask, “What do you want?” 

What actionable things would make you happy and content and keep you from wanting to constantly protest and riot? Are those things even achievable? Or are you simply raging against western civilization as it exists?

If that last sentence is the answer, then you won’t be happy until you’re in an actual war. But these kids aren’t warriors. And they have yet to produce a Declaration of Independence-style document that lays out what would make them happy. 

In 2020, some of them tried to form their own community in the inner parts of Seattle, with a place called “Chaz.” Apparently, Chaz couldn’t get clean water and was plagued with murders and hunger until its unceremonial demise in…nobody remembers. 

If your protest is about changing the current whatever, it might be a good idea to stop for a second and ask yourself that simplest of questions: what do I want?

And if you can’t answer that question, you’re not really protesting. You’re acting out, based on some kind of personal issue that you probably don’t want to deal with. 

And when weighing dealing with your own pain and neuroses versus against wing thought of as a social justice warrior, the later will almost always win. Because it has a lot of romance attached to it. 

But after you burn it all to the ground, something has to be built in its place. 

Knowing what you want built is the difference between adults and babies. Unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t growing up these days. 

So, what do you want? And what would it take to make it happen? And what would be the consequences of getting it?

Without the answer to those questions, protests never ring true. 




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3 thoughts on “ONE WISH …

  1. Most of the time it does seem like all we’re seeing is “acting out,” which often ends in wide-spread property damage.


  2. Agree with all of this. For me it comes down to that simple fact that it’s so much harder to create something, whether that’s a physical, tangible thing, or something intangible, like “a sense of community” than it is to tear something down. Before talking about how you want to “change the world,” try creating or at least participating in a small part of it. If you do manage to create something, then the challenge of how to keep it going is equally if not more difficult. Of course things can and should be done differently in many cases…..but none of this is simple, and if one’s only answer / solution is “other people need to change,” that’s not really an answer….even if it’s partly true.


  3. “what do you want?”

    Whether they know it or not, they want company!

    The church grew weak and lazy and became a club for their members; resulting in a bubble existence with largely apathetic and feckless influence.

    These rioters are indoctrinated bored angry Godless elite and spoiled.

    Others are paid employees of old indoctrinating power drunk angry bored Godless elite spoiled billionaires.

    As a result they are all miserable… and Misery does love company.

    They WANT company… but they NEED Jesus.

    Instead of a genie asking what they want, perhaps the church should come alive and tell them what they need.


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