If there is one way history will mark 2011, it will be as the year the people regained their voice.
With luck, 2012 will be remembered as the year that voice brought about change.
From the Arab Spring protests in North Africa and the Middle East to the Occupy movement in the world's financial centres to more recent demonstrations in Moscow, this past year saw an unprecedented outpouring of anger from citizens around the globe.
While the targets varied, the protests were aimed in broad terms at a single issue: the elevation of the few at the expense of the many.
Recent decades have seen a growing disparity between rich and poor in the West - both in terms of wealth and influence - and the continued tolerance of undemocratic regimes.
The mass demonstrations of 2011 called attention to these problems but have yet to bring about solutions.
In the Arab world, one despot after another has toppled, but as has been underscored by crackdowns in Egypt, it is far from clear that their replacements will be better.
In wealthier countries, the Occupy movement has influenced the debate, but it has yet to narrow the gap.
This year, the supporters of these movements have to sharpen their focus if there is to be any real and lasting change.
In the Arab world and elsewhere, demonstrators have to maintain the pressure until truly accountable government is achieved, and in the West we must do our part by refusing to support any alternative.
Closer to home, Occupy's successors have to demand specific policy changes aimed at fairer compensation, taxation and campaign finance.
With energy and intelligence, outrage can give rise to progress.
Can we make it happen in 2012?