One of the benefits of age is experience.
I remember the 1960s and 70s because I was alive, conscious, alert and oriented enough to remember them personally. There was talk of “Revolution” in the air.
A lot of it. Talk. A lot of talk.
“The Revolution will not be televised.”
“The Revolution will not be announced.”
“The Revolution will come like a thunderclap and when it is over everything will be different.”
Well, no, no, no and did I mention… no.
But there was, as I say, a lot of talk, much of it scary. Remember, this was a world for whom the second world war was no distant memory, it had been personal, too.
So when people spoke of armed uprisings and revolution and political upheaval, lots of folks got frightened enough to take it all at face value and they got together and decided to dig in their heels and resist.
The FBI and the CIA started looking for revolutionaries in all kinds of places, their logic dictated largely by irrational and self-serving paranoia.
And the reactionary conservative political movement was seeded through this means, the movement which gave us Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, George Wallace, Ronald Reagan, George Bush the First, Newt Gingrich, George Bush the Second, Dick Cheney, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and perhaps the most bizzarre manifestation of this philosophy ever conceived, Donald Trump.
Just to name a few.
I say all of the above because yesterday I heard some people speaking in tones and ideas that I haven’t heard in 50 years. And I wasn’t at all happy to hear them again.
Gun violence by police aimed against black men and other minorites has planted the seeds for sniper gun violence aimed against police in Dallas, Texas, and soon — who knows where else?
(By the way, am I the only one who sees the tragic parallels of a sniper in DALLAS?)
I lived through the polarized days of the Vietnam War and the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention and Kent State. It wasn’t glorious, it wasn’t enobling, it wasn’t fun and it wasn’t cool.
It was so distressing, right down to the level of the subconscious, that the eighties which followed the seventies were dubbed the “me decade” because everybody was exhausted from caring about the larger issues and the consensus was that we should all of us just take a break, get stoned and just stop worrying about anything that went on outside our immediate neighborhood, or even beyond our own front yard.
This was the decade people stopped carrying pizza out and started to have it delivered to their front doors instead. This was the decade that gave us the placebo phrase “victimless crime.” Renting porn movies on VCR cassettes – like smoking weed – was at that time a victimless crime.
Now, a full generation later, we have an entire population of men who view ritualized sexual assault of women as a rite of passage and smoking weed is viewed with much the same gravity as the failure to signal a turn.
And now we have reached the age that may quite possibly give us the phrase “victims of justice” or, more simply, “police victims.”
I hope not, but I once more fear for the future of this once-great land and I do not think that polarizing people further is the way to restore that greatness.
Let us pray, not prey.