quote:The whole time we were in Chicago it was like those hours in front of the Pentagon. There were exhilarating moments. I’ll never forget the image of Alan Ginsberg with a circle of people around him, in the midst of tear gas and police clubbing, sitting cross-legged for hours at a time “omming” in deep sonorous tones, attempting to drive away the evil spirits.
And there were moments of just waiting around, being bored. And then there were so many moments when you just had to “go with the flow” because you had no control over the situation. There were just too many factors that could not be known.
And yet we each felt we had to be there. In the back of our minds were images of the Pentagon clubbings and arrests, the Oakland 7 action and trial, the assassination of JFK, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. The urban rebellions and police retaliations. Vietnam. Prague. Mexico. France. We were very aware of the violent nature of the opposition, but we felt part of a worldwide movement for change and we were willing to risk our lives for that change.
I'm curious for you guys, this being very divorced from your life story and history, what this kind of account looks like to you, two generations past.
Does it look or sound anything like anything you know, in terms of actions or of feelings? Does it seem different or similar, familiar or alien?
-------------------- Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen About Me • Get our book! Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000
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Wow. I'm not even sure where to begin, except to start by saying how incredible that piece was. It filled me with so many emotions: sadness, longing, anger, pride, rebellion, fear, and even joy, to name the ones I can identify. It saddens me to think how different we are today. We are no longer a political peoples, at least not in the same sense. I doubt you will find many people today willing to give up their dreamed of suburban homes and white picket fences, 9-5 white-collar jobs, to fight for peace and unity (as oxymoronic as that sounds). While in some ways the internet has had a profound impact on our capabilities to inform and organize, it's also silenced us in many ways. We can sit at home and blog about the problems of the world, donate to charities from the comforts of our couches, support a cause or a political candidate without leaving the AC or the TV, and we feel safe doing it. We feel safe writing our inflammatory opinions on a website, knowing that the danger is only minimal (maybe a slap on the wrist or a fine), but going out and protesting, that takes a lot of work and energy, and carries that risk of arrest, ruining our tidy little futures and 401k's.
Does this look alien? Sadly, yes. Like something from Beetlegeuse. I've listened to my father talk about the Hungarian Revolution a thousand times (he was there, only a teenager at the time, yet still participated minimally) and the whole thing seems unreal. And yet I can read about it in books. It happened. It all happened. What's happened to our society that we are so afraid now?
It's not that we don't see the problems; we do, else so many people wouldn't be jumping for joy about Obama. I'll admit it, I'm not crazy about the guy. I can't figure out his stance on a lot of issues and I don't think he's a particularly vibrant speaker, but I'll vote for him because I like his position on foreign policy, and I'm confident that we can fight for the domestic issues. But I see how people have flocked to him, how hopeful so many people have become, and it heartens me. It also says a lot to me about the people in this country. We are aching for some hope, some change, something to believe in. It seems that Obama has become a kind of catalyst for many people. Maybe someday soon the people will rise up, they will fight back, and we will stop this damn war, and we won't enter into another one with Russia (something I fear very much should McCain be elected), and maybe, just maybe, we'll actually start giving a crap about each other.
Then I see people like the ones in some of my classes. They don't see why they should care about their fellow human being. If it doesn't directly affect them, why should they care? I think this mentality has arisen in part out of the Iraq War. When you think about War in the past, it has always meant a great cost to the people on both sides, not just the country being invaded. With WW1 and WW2, people gave up much to fund the war efforts. Our country was at risk for bombings. With Vietnam, so many people went to war, you were almost guaranteed to directly know someone drafted. But with Iraq, we haven't been affected. We haven't cut back on our fuel intake. In fact, it's increased since the start of the war. We haven't cut back on our spending, except for this recent recession. People are still getting married, still having families, still getting an education, still eating well, still buying new clothes. What have we given up? Not even our safety. We have no concept of what it means to care for our fellow man since we haven't had to. We can continue to consume, and never give back.
I don't mean to sound so condemning. I know there are a hell of a lot of people out there who give back in many powerful ways and do superhero type things. But I think we as a nation, as western society, do have this problem of thinking only about the here and now, and never worrying to the future or looking back to learn from the past, and I think that is something so very important that we all need to do. The pasts of our societies are written within us, and influence us all the time, that to ignore it is to ignore the very grass, dirt, sand, or cement that we stand on.
[ 09-06-2008, 05:29 PM: Message edited by: orca ]
-------------------- Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail Posts: 2726 | From: North America | Registered: Apr 2007
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We take life for granted until it smacks us in the face, and then we promptly forget. I think we, as a society, press for others to move on too quickly, without grieving and processing death, simply because mortality makes us uncomfortable.
Too, we really stand in no imminent danger. We don't know real, unadulterated, immediate fear.
Like Orca said, we haven't experienced war in the ways that previous generations have, though, I suspect with the election of McCain, we will. We (my generation) have never really had to fear nuclear war, but again, I suspect we will, and we even have good reason to fear it now.
quote: “I never shot a gun or planted a bomb, but I supported the Vietcong and selective violence here at home. Though I am a white middle class American who enjoys a good meal and the luxury of comfort, I nevertheless share the feelings of extremist revolutionaries. My country had brutalized the red race and the black race and now we were dropping bombs on brown and yellow people. I felt my position was morally right. Anything any of us could do to stop genocide was O.K. As a child of America I had been taught that the Good Germans who did nothing to stop Hitler were also morally responsible for his crimes. I felt anger at the gap between our ideals and the cold reality of our power system.”
I really appreciated this quote because it really sums up the issues with our generation. We don't bridge the gap between our ideals ("Never again..." re: the Holocaust) and reality. I've realized that we are just as silenced by our government as the Chinese are, but in more covered-up, hidden ways. It's depressing, when it comes down to it, but it's also why I find Obama encouraging. People are aching for hope. We know it could be different, but I don't think we know *how* to make it different.
I feel like, too, that people in my generation seem to laugh at those who take a stand or have a strong opinion about something. We are all suspect to having ulterior motives, since [sarcasm]nobody really cares about anybody else anymore[/sarcasm], and I think that attitude devalues the ideals and energies that the Yippies held dear.
I may be mistaken regarding this, but IME, that is the attitude people hold towards things like boycotting the Olympics in Beijing (even those in my mother-in-law's generation..."One person can't make a difference! Just watch..."). My mom, who is an older mother (had me at 36, and I was her first), was part of the "hippie" generation. She campaigned in California (long stretch from Minnesota in those days) for McGovern.
Now she's voting for McCain.
I don't know what happened. Maybe it's the "older-you-get, more-conservative-you-get" thing, maybe she votes for Mc-Guys. I really don't know. It seriously depresses me, though (especially since she won't talk about it without purely being on the defence...there is no room for discussion. It upsets me because there has *always* been room for discussion with my mom, but somehow, not with this. I think she's become really, really cynical regarding politics, which I think is understandable, given what's happened in her lifetime. Still makes me sad, though.
Anyways, thanks for posting this! It was an interesting and inspiring read.
-------------------- "Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt; sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth." ~Mark Twain Posts: 59 | From: Canada | Registered: May 2007
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