Monday, October 24, 2005

The Answer is Blowin' in the Wind....

The last few weeks, I have been loath to step into the political comment arena. Things have just looked too dark and hopeless. The Republican Party continues to advance its agenda in the face of growing public discontent with both their direction and their methods. Truly, I think they’ve accelerated their timetable, hurrying to reap every benefit of being in control of the reins of government before the disenchanted public snatches them out of their hands. (Three-dollar-a-gallon gas, anyone?) Speaking of hands, the Democrats continue to sit on theirs…

The loud-mouthed right-wing pundits and talk show hosts screech that the GOP’s problems are all the result of political attacks by their left-wing enemies. And because we have so encouraged the development of a "when you do bad, you suck; when I do bad, you suck" electorate, there are still crowds of brainwashed (brain-dead?) mortals lining up behind the media mouthpieces, raising their fists and shouting in agreement. It’s enough to make any sane person crawl under a rock and stay there until January of 2009. And then maybe crawl right back under if the political winds are still blowing ill…

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on how today’s political climate is at polar opposites to what it was when I was in high school. Ah the seventies! When we reaped the harvest sown by our older siblings in the sixties. Television shows like M*A*S*H, shoving the futility of war into our faces every Tuesday night. And "All in the Family" poking rapier-sharp fun at centuries-old prejudices and social hypocrisy, urging us, at knife-point, to open our minds and change our ways. It didn’t matter who was in the White House…Nixon? Ford? Carter? The country had definitely swung left of center. Who swung it? We did. The young people. The massive horde of baby boomers who embraced ideas like social conscience, ecology, civil rights, PEACE…and we rioted in the streets, shook everything up, banged our fists and shouted, until the world paid attention.

What happened? We had won…we had the country going on a reasonably moral track, heading into the twenty-first century. Perhaps our victory had been TOO complete…perhaps we just couldn’t face our global responsibilities as the world’s Goliath. When Al Qaida’s David flung its rock, it hit us hard, snapped our heads back, and missed being a fatal blow by inches. And now, we were old. Looking forward to nothing morechallenging than that quiet, secure retirement billowing toward us from the horizon.

So we ran. Backwards. Back to those old attitudes of fear (ragheads and Muslims and terrorists, oh my!); selfishness (I got mine, go get your own); contentiousness (I win, you lose!); nationalism (Yew don’t lak it heah? Go live in Eye-Rack!) and mindless consumerism (Global warming? Let’s study that for awhile…) Because the conservative mob that happened to be in power at the time told us that if we did that, if we got in line and did not stray from their narrow path, they would keep us safe. We lost our nerve. We handed them the keys. We sold out.

Lately, I’ve been wondering…where are today’s young people? Why are they not picking up the old banner of peace, tolerance, and global responsibility that we left lying in the dust? And what would we do if they did? Think about it…what would be our reaction to an avenging army of college students and young workers, the likes of our young selves in the sixties and seventies? What would we think, how would we react, those of us who are now as old and set in our ways as our parents were thirty-five years ago? Fortunately or un-, our children don’t seem so inclined. They have chosen "I, me, mine" as their banner, and so try their best to ignore all things political, or concepts even slightly larger than themselves, in their steadfast quest for their first plasma TV or Humvee. We cannot expect them to save us…from ourselves.

To whom can we turn, then, to guide us out of this quagmire into which we’ve followed our opportunistic leaders? I think I got my answer yesterday. On the side of the highway leading into our small town, three gray-haired ladies, my age or a few years older, brandished home-made, pink poster board placards held aloft on fresh, unpainted 1 x 2’s from the Home Depot, which read "Peace" "Honk if You" "Want Out." It crossed my mind that, a year ago, those ladies might have been harassed, spat on, or even arrested. But…wonder of wonders. The vehicles on that busy highway were slowing down. And honking.

Yes, old friends, it may very well be up to us once again. And I think we just might be up to it.


  1. This is great!  I'll make the placards if you'll gather the people ....  Pennie

  2. OMGosh.....

    Lisa I adore you.

  3. Very interesting.  My husband and I often wonder at the apathy and apparent complacency of today's youth.  Is it because so many of them are attached to cell phones, earphones, etc. and appear to be tuning out the "real world"?  I don't know the answer.  Every up and coming generation inherits so many problems; are today's problems so much worse?  Perhaps so because we are constantly bombarded with all the problems of the world and that, to me, is too overwhelming to deal with.  Maybe our young people feel the same?


  5. I agree with Penny, and I feel very old to say it, but I find myself thinking, more and more, "this country is going to hell in a handbasket" (and I know the origin of that saying; more on that another time).


  6. Boy, we sure did show them all back then, didn't we?  We were always burning something, brandishing a sign exclaiming just about anything, and just letting people know that we cared.
    Those were the days, that's for sure.  Like you, I don't see many young ones who care enough to even make a sign,  much less actually write something worthwhile on it!  


    Great entry by the way!  You always make me think, and at my 52 years... that's a good thing! :)


  7. Your mind gets terribly focused when a son. brother, nephew, classmate, or yourself may end up in the meat grinder. I think the volunteer army has something to do with it. The fragmenting of the media has a lot to do with it. You can literally go for days and not hear any news you don't want to hear. Same thing with the net. The military has done a horrendous job of managing the news out of the middle east. Think us creaky old geezers can bring it on again.