I stumbled into the crowded bookstore on a cold winter day a few years ago, rushing to catch a glimpse of the author speaking in the back. As is my custom, I was late and his speech was well underway.
The question and answer began and someone in the crowd asked something I hear often at events like this one: “Don’t you get tired of banging your head against the wall? Is there any room for hope?” The speaker laughed a bit before responding quite seriously that he was indeed quite hopeful. Things may look hopeless in the very near term, but the change he’s talking about takes decades.
The author was Gar Alperovitz, speaking about his most recent book, What Then Must We Do? The line is one he’s repeated often—and one that’s stuck with me ever since: If you’re in the business of social change, you have to think in terms of decades.
It’s with this lesson in mind that we should consider taking on one of the most pressing problems of our time: wealth inequality. The problem with wealth inequality, after all, isn’t simply that it’s been growing steadily over the past 30 years. The problem is that it’s showing no signs of stopping in the near or distant future.
And things are going to get worse.