I woke up this morning very early. It is still dark outside but thoughts were rolling through my mind as I lay in bed trying to be quiet and not wake Bill up. I decided to get up and write about some of the thoughts that were rolling around in my brain rather than trying to fall back to sleep. Sometimes some of my best thoughts and dreams come to me just before I open my eyes. I don't know why that is but those thoughts churn around inside me for the rest of the day sometimes. Food for thought?
When I was growing up, in my teens and early twenties, my generation seemed so totally different than the generation of today. We were living through the Viet Nam war. It was right in front of us each and every day. It was on our televisions, our newscasts, in our schools. I saw protests on the news at UC Berkeley where crowds of young people had come together to join one another protesting the fact that the government was issuing draft notices to our young men. We didn't want them going to war over something that we didn't believe in. We didn't want them dying needlessly. Some of them were so young that they were not legal age to drink or vote, yet they could put a gun in their hands and be trained to kill other human beings. What is so different from then to now? Why are young people (mostly young men if I think about it) picking up guns and killing people in their own cities---theaters, school campuses, freeways, malls---without the least bit of remorse or fear? What is different? What has changed?
I think about the music that we listened to. We had Cat Stevens singing "Peace Train"
Now I've been happy lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun
I've been smiling lately
Dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be
Something good's bound to come...
We had John Lennon singing songs like "Imagine":
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace...
We had Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane (now Starship), Country Joe and the Fish, and on and on. These musicians all sang about the war, dying, the draft, and hope and peace. I lived through the Summer of Love. I saw Haight and Ashbury close up. It was contagious, this feeling that we heard and found in our music. We wanted to buck the establishment. We wanted to protest the war. We wanted freedom of speech and freedom of love. Killing was the farthest thing from our mind. We didn't want our loved ones (our boyfriends and our neighbors sons) going off to fight a war we didn't believe in because there was a truth to that. We didn't want our young friends to learn to kill, to learn to die, to never return home again.
I don't know what the difference is but there is something so wrong with what is happening to our young people now. Is it that they don't have hope for a future? Do they not yearn for a better life and peace and love like we did? When I was 20-something I had dreams of quitting my job, buying some land far away from the city, living in peace among a forest, creating art and poetry, eating healthy, living off the land, building my own home, and on and on. I didn't want to be part of "the establishment" because "the establishment" was equated with everything bad: war, lust, hatred, money, greed, politics. I don't think much has changed in that area to this day. But something has changed in the fact that young men don't feel their lives and the lives of others is of any value.
I don't know what the answer is/ I wish I did. I wish that when they heard all the songs playing that I grew up with that they would feel the electricity of the lyrics running through their veins like I did--like we did. It gave us hope. It gave us a future to dream about and live for. Most of my dreams came true. I met a man who had the same dreams as I did. We bought land, lived off-grid, built our own home, planted a garden, and worked hard to realize our dreams-come-true. Maybe that is the key: having dreams to live for.
I do know this: draft notices were being sent out. Young men were afraid. They were afraid of killing and they were especially afraid of dying. They don't seem to have that same fear any longer. They aren't afraid of killing or dying.
John Lennon had it right when he said "Nothing to kill or die for". We need hope. We need to "Imagine all the people living life in peace".
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