When people generally are aware of a problem, it can be said to have entered the public consciousness. When people get on their hind legs and holler, the problem has not only entered the public consciousness -- it has also become a part of the public conscience. At that point, things in our democracy begin to hum.
History teaches us that the great revolutions aren't started by people who are utterly down and out, without hope and vision. They take place when people begin to live a little better -- and when they see how much yet remains to be achieved.