Whatever Happened To The Idealism Of The 60's?


Ever since the nasty and divisive "Reagan Devolution" began infecting America in 1980, I have been completely at a loss as to what, exactly, this movement offers to real Americans other than the unadulterated worship of wealth and greed and the abuse of all who are unable to protect themselves from these lovers of self-interests. In fact, I finally was able to discern what so many average Americans find attractive in the Conservative "philosophy" only when I lay in bed late at night, tossing and turning and wondering what had become of the decent, loving values that my generation spoke out for just thirty years ago.

Instead of just laying out my conclusion and then trying to structure and put before you the facts to support this opinion, let's look at just a few of the differences between what the children of the 60's wanted to accomplish and what the adults of the 80's and 90's has allowed to come to pass.

The children of the 60's believed that any form of racism or sexism or any other ism was to be exposed and debated and, for those who could not find it in their hearts to change and improve their little part of the world by refusing to honor those isms, those people were to be simply ignored and pitied like children demanding candy for breakfast (Yeah, I know that most breakfast cereals are just candy but let the metaphor alone, it's still relevant!)

The conservative 80's and 90's has brought us full circle to a time where America sees nothing wrong with the destruction of every program ever enacted that was meant to level the playing field for all Americans, regardless of sex or color or background or sexual preference or whatever the White, wealthy majority had used to hold back huge segments of America's population for centuries. In fact, the world has turned so quickly that to defend these programs and to support the aims that these programs held as their center is to make oneself an object of ridicule and insult.

The children of the 60's believed that all men and all women are equal in every way and that we would all profit greatly, particularly in a moral and spiritual sense, when the views and beliefs of women were encouraged to become a large part of all national debates.

The 80's and 90's witnessed people like Anita Bryant and Phyllis Schafely and Andrea Dworkin speaking out against the idea of equality and either promoting the Donna Reed role model of motherhood (which has never existed anywhere but in the fevered minds of conservatives) or attempting to further divide the sexes by creating a world where women are always the victims of male violence and where the simple act between two consenting adults of making love must be viewed as a violent act of rape and subjection by the male. It also saw the rock-bottom, most morally and spiritually depraved people like Pat Buchannon and David Duke finding wide spread support and encouragement for their vile and hateful attitudes towards women and minorities and the poorest of Americans.

The children of the sixties held individuals who were attempting to create a far better, more loving and accepting world as their heroes. People like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi were held in esteem and honor by the children of the 60's and their movements joined and their aims of a better world spread wherever possible.

The 80's and 90's find only simple athletes and wealthy criminals and the greediest of politicians being held out to our children as role models to emulate. The mere ability to play a children's game at a slightly higher than playground level is held out to the black children as just about the only way out of the poverty and despair that, once again, affects every new generation of blacks in America. Individuals whose only contribution to society is hitting a small white ball or placing a large brown ball through a ten foot high hoop are held out as some incredible and worthwhile human beings even as they hawk expensive tennis shoes that were manufactured by children even younger than the ones who will be shot to death over the ownership of those silly shoes. Wealthy, white, Wall Street brokers and bank and Savings & Loan executives who steal hundreds of millions of dollars from their elderly and poor investors are defended with the lie that "everyone was doing it" (then why isn't "everyone" going directly to jail?) and then punished by a two or three year sentence in a country club with fences and then hired, for God's sake, by the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) to teach, of all things BUSINESS ETHICS!!!!!!!!!

The children of the sixties believed that the only true indicator of your character was how you treated others but, in particular, how you treated those less fortunate than yourself. To fight for the equality of all mankind was considered a battle for the heart and soul of this nation.

The 80's and 90's only look to see if you are an "all-star" athlete or a "celebrity" or extremely rich and then judge you as worthy only on those tawdry "attributes". The 80's and 90's have created an atmosphere in which anyone calling for justice and equality are ridiculed and insulted and ignored or worse. The 80's and 90's have created a world where TV and magazines and the movies tell you who to worship and who to ignore. In every movie and every television program where the black and white, good versus evil mentality is offered as if it was actual entertainment, any character who calls for a sensible solution to whatever crisis is at hand is killed in the most violent and depraved manner long before the second set of offensive commercials and, always, the world is saved by a overly muscled imbecile with access to enormous quantities of weapons of mass destruction, leaving our children with the constant impression that only ignorant people with large weapons stand any chance of being a man and being heard in this horribly sick world they are growing up in.

The children of the sixties believed that everyone owned their own bodies and had an inalienable right to treat it as they chose in so far as it harmed no other person. The children of the sixties tried to embody the words "Your right to swing your arm stops at the tip of anyone else's nose."

The 80's and 90's are a time of legislating the "morals" of immoral politicians and greedy, money addicted televangelists in a long failed effort to force the narrow and, usually, misinterpreted Biblical beliefs of these simpletons on the rest of humanity. The 80's and 90's have seen the Constitution's First, Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Amendments abused or outright negated in the conservative's long lost War On Americans Who Use The Wrong Drugs while the Second and Tenth Amendments are treated as sacred text handed down from God. The 80's and 90's has seen a time when the fastest growing industry in America becomes the industry that constructs and mans the swelling prison system necessary to house the millions of American prisoners of war from that same lost cause.

The children of the 60's found their own young children a priceless treasure to be protected and educated and loved without limit. Their children were constantly encouraged to use their young minds, not for rote memorization, but for exploring their world and trying to find their place within it.

The 80's and 90's have seen children reduced only to political pawns by politicians and to mere "consumers" by Corporate America. The 80's and 90's have succeeded in vastly limiting the human experiences that children once enjoyed, such as playing with others and exploring their neighborhood, and replaced it with television shows whose only purpose is to induce children to desire more and more material toys and to use their minds less and less as they sit for hours drooling in front of the lighted idiot box. Their explorations are limited dramatically by the constant fear of violence and abuse that is a direct consequence of keeping certain drugs illegal and, thus, keeping their costs artificially high and their sales so coveted that anyone at any time can be murdered by a bullet fired miles away during a "business related territorial dispute". The 80's and 90's have witnessed a world where both parents must work outside of the home just to provide the barest of life's necessities to their children. Corporate America's contemptible redefining of their workers as "assets" or "liabilities" or "resources" and the off-handed and amoral and abusive practices of improving profits not by improving their products but only by destroying the lives of their employees in massive, Wall Street inspired lay-offs and "downsizing" has replaced the old practice of hiring only executives who were intelligent enough to improve a product line and replaced it with Corporate America hiring only executives with so little moral and human characteristics that they can find happiness in just destroying those lives that once were employees.

The children of the 60's demanded, but never received, open and factual news of the nation and of the world. The children of the 60's believed that only an informed and aware public could ever be expected to make the decisions necessary to guide this nation into a future where only the best minds with the honest characters would be allowed to govern our nearly great nation.

The 80's and 90's have forced upon America lies and half-truths disguised as information that passes for news programs and "special reports" written, produced and sponsored by the nation's and the world's worst polluters that paint a picture of happy squirrels and butterflies cavorting about in nature while Corporate America happily goes about its business of raping and destroying the only planet in the endless universe that we know can sustain human life. Corporate America has refined their vile and disgraceful public defenses of the horrors that they inflict on the rest of us through baseless lawsuits against anyone insane enough to try to inform and educate the American public, lawsuits that are not meant to succeed but only to harass and bankrupt those who step over Corporate America's line. Even our own government feeds the media's lazy reporters whatever drivel they want Americans to believe. Using cartoon-like, square jawed military characters who point at maps and pronounce America's superiority but completely ignoring the constant killing of innocent civilians murdered in our mad dash to victory at any cost.

The children of the 60's longed for leaders who would speak the truth and who would open and guide honest debates on all issues important to our nation and who would encourage all voices to join in and add viewpoints that had, up till then, been disregarded and brushed aside. The children of the 60's were disgusted at the obvious facades that politicians presented to the nation and which the adults of the 40's and 50's seemed to accept as normal and acceptable.

The 80's and 90's have given us the superficial and senile Ronald and the greedy and divisive Nancy Reagan, the incredibly unaware and vicious Bush years and, finally, the immoral and inconceivably faithless (in so many, many ways) Billy Bob Boy Clinton. The 80's and 90's have created a nation of uninformed and unthinking citizens who, if they vote at all, vote for the candidate who aired the best hate filled attack ads against their opponents.

The children of the 60's wanted America to behave as exactly what we are, a small fraction of the total number of passengers on Earth who are currently being taken through space at tens of thousands of miles per hour with no conceivable possibility of being issued a transfer ticket to another ride for many, many years to come.

The 80's and 90's have brought open warfare on indigenous peoples by huge petroleum corporations and supported by local governments greedy for the oil reserves beneath millennia old tribal lands. The 80's and 90's have been a time of our own government allowing nuclear waste to be transported across our nation's highways to be deposited deep within Yucca Mountain, an area replete with earthquake faults and aquifers that lead directly into the Colorado River. The 80's and 90's have brought a climate where nasty radio hosts can insult those who care for the planet, calling them "tree-huggers" with absolutely no voice for reason available in any media, a media that celebrates hate and greed and refuses to allow intelligent rebuttal a place to be heard.

I think that the moral is obvious for those still interested in reality. The children of the sixties wanted a world where justice and fairness weren't just words. They wanted to redirect America but found the resistance of the established wealthy and Corporate America a truly formidable and immovable dynamic. As the children of the 60's grew and entered the working world, far too many found that the ideals that they had once been so passionate about were going to take much more effort to bring into the world than they had once naively imagined. Instead of reaching into their basic human faith and striving ever harder to bring the world into the golden age they had dreamed of, the children of the 60's looked at the world and its material allure and turned to the depravity of avariciousness. The children of the 60's suddenly found that they could easily delude themselves into the belief that material gratification could substitute for spiritual happiness and fulfillment.

The children of the 60's also found that others were craving after the same small share of wealth that had fallen from the fat, greasy and grasping hands of the rich and powerful. They found that blacks and women and many others wanted to share in the resources available, a movement that might leave less wealth available to them. This conflict opened the door wide for the purveyors of racism and class warfare to spew their repugnant and detestable bile which was swallowed whole by these once idealistic children as being the latest reason that good, white Americans weren't becoming as rich with the speed that they thought necessary. The indulgent habit of blaming your circumstances on others became an easy substitute for their once loving attitudes towards others.

What has come to pass is nation full of lazy, unthinking citizens who, where they once wanted a better and more caring world and are now happily settling only for the material and crass. Where once they believed in sharing the world's resources they now settle for greed and selfishness and hatred towards those less fortunate. Where they once championed absolute subservience to the Constitution of the United States, they now find the Constitution's principles too constricting in their drive to keep their children from enjoying the same drugs that they, themselves, spent many evenings relaxing with. Basically, the children of the 60's who became the adults of 80's and 90's found the dark side of capitalism and materialism too attractive and idealism of the 60's too difficult to continue and they have taken the easy way out.

This, then, is where we find our nearly great nation. We are no longer at a crossroads of any sort. The road to greed has been paved and fenced on all sides while the path to world happiness and justice has been mined and proclaimed the road to perdition and any who choose to trod that trail are un-American and anti-capitalist and probably a Communist.

Well, personally, I will continue to plod along on that lonely and ignored path every day of my short time as a passenger of planet Earth. I am truly aware that I stand small hope of gaining any more companions other than the few who have already said goodbye to the world's baser temptations but continue I must. Any other endeavor would only to undermine the world that I still hope to leave to my children, one where the ideals that I have held dear since my youth in the 60's has finally become the basis for all earthly commerce and interactions. Any other venture would mean I have become just another of the failed activists from a time when optimism for the future meant more than a just another growing stock portfolio.

Return To Front Page


Go To Next Column

Return to Index of Columns

Go To Archives of Columns

Visit Our Unique Shops At:

The Progressive Mind
Haiwee Fashions
Filipino Soul
Impeach The Moron
Rosetta Stone - Your Name In Egyptian Hieroglyphs
Signs of the Zodiac Gifts

Write me at:jcannon@anotherperspective.org

Comments?

Copyright 6/15/99