Here is the deal. If you have no hero and no villain with conflict between them, you have no story.
Your hero and your villain must be actual people. They can’t be ideas or concepts or systems or moods.
We readers are stupid that way. While we like think of ourselves as sophisticated and intelligent, we’re really consuming stories for the show factor.
Think Rome. Think Colosseum. Think crowd thirsty for blood, for spectacle, for experiencing two primal and most powerful emotions: sexual desire and fear of death.
The reason we consume stories (and we’ve always done that, the medium changed from oral tales to written epics to plays to books to movies to games to who knows what the future will bring) is simple—stories help us process life. Make sense of it. Get some kind of a feeling of order, because life is chaos and unpredictable and not fair.
Therefore, if you have your character ruminate about life, you have no story. If you have your character fight some political system with no actual person representing the evil of that system, you have no story. If you have multiple people in conflict with multiple people, again, you have no story. It’s too much for us, readers, we need one single pair of people in conflict to focus on.
It’s as hard and as simple as that.
And conflict doesn’t mean a bloody fight. Conflict can be a battle where love wins, like in the movie A Wrinkle in Time, without the hero throwing a single kick in the direction of the villain. But conflict must be there.
Otherwise, why would we waste our time on reading such a story? We might as well read the news.