Social media sites, print media and broadcast media are replete with opinions pointing to our current time in history as “the most divisive ever”; as containing “the most upheaval ever”; as being “the most hopeless ever; as being “the most dangerous ever”. Pundits point to racially, ethnically and even politically motivated violence, to global political strife and wars, to high unemployment numbers and toterrorism and gun related crimes as proofs of their assertions. “Things have never been as bad as they are now” is the refrain of their Greek Chorus.
Talking about this with other “Boomers” took our thoughts back to our lives four or five decades ago; to those more “peaceful times”. In the context of the decade of the 1960’s, “peaceful’ actually meant peace in pieces with everyone screaming about how they wanted a world full of peace. Some were even willing to resort to violence to achieve their vision of peace. Does this sound familiar?
We remembered spending a good share of our school days folded in half under our desks with our butts sticking up in the air. Does anyone remember doing “drop drills” back here? These civil defense exercises were supposed to teach us how to “protect ourselves” in the event of something on the scale of an earthquake….or maybe a missile strike. Yes – we were told there was a good chance the Russians would drop one on us. The Russian missiles in Cuba in ’62 made us believers. I never believed the desk would protect me.
Although President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act into law in 1960, and President Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, there wasn’t much that was civil or peaceful about the 1960’s. Black men were being denied service at Woolworth’s lunch counters, the Berlin Wall was being built and President Kennedy advised it would be “prudent” for families to have bomb shelters. President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. The Watts Riots broke out in LA in 1965. My town was burned and people we knew were injured or killed. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 and Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated on June 5 of that same year. In May of 1970, the Kent State shootings taught us that our own government would open fire on us. The Munich Olympics terror attacks were in 1972 and our President Nixon resigned the office of President in 1974; all of this while the Vietnam War was being broadcast right into our living rooms.
We had drug overdoses, unemployment, racism, environmental disasters and family dysfunction all amidst a crushing economic recession, but we made it through all of that. Many of the same problems we’re facing now existed then. This is NOT the worst things have ever been. The 1960’s songs “Get Together” by the Youngbloods and “Let’s Work Together” by Canned Heat give us suggestions on how we can get through these difficult times – “Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now”. Sure, things look bad, but I’ve seen much of this before. If we love each other and work together, we’ll get through it just fine. We did before and look how far we’ve come!
© 2016 Curt Savage Media