I was 13 in 1970, too young to be a hippie, and too far in the sticks to get involved in the "peace movement" even if I had been older. But I heard the slogans floating around. "Stop the war"! "Make love not war"! I was so dumb, I thought to make love rather than war was to just catagorically love everyone! To war with no-one! The idea that it was a physical mating of two individuals never crossed my mind. So the concept I bought into, hook, line, and sinker, was maybe just a little bit off what was being proclaimed by all those girls in granny dresses and fringed vests, and boys with long hair and bellbottoms. But I know I got it , in general. And buy into it I did!
I started collecting rock and roll albums, (by the late 80s I had close to 3,000!) I just knew Carol King was singing straight to me with her folk flavored compisitions the first time I heard her Tapestry album. I started hanging anything by Peter Max, (reproductions naturally), on my bedroom walls. His "Love" poster being my favorite. I made, gave away, and wore "love beads", and wore a black arm band on my right thigh when the four unarmed students at Kent State University were killed by National Guard troops. I went to see "Billy Jack", and later "The Trial of Billy Jack" at the drive-in. Cried because of how moved I was, and said "Right on!"
My emotions were completely wrapped up in the times I lived in. I was a child of the cold war at the dawning of the age of aquarius! A confusing, electric, hostile time of the Vietnam War. I remember sitting in front of the TV watching footage from the frontlines every evening on the news with my folks. It seemed to me no-one could explain what in Hell we were actually doing over there. And those young people all over the nation calling for peace, and demanding the vote, were depicted as everything from "commies" to "filthy bums", by many of the local "rednecks" I was familiar with. So my confusion grew out of a sense of injustice. Maybe the "establisment" really was the enemy.
The clothes of the 70s were great. The music was the best, (sans disco later in the decade). But the climate, the attitude was one of discontent, strife, with the bleed off from the 60s. How could the college students across the nation hope to accomplish peace in Southeast Asia, while so much violence was being perpetuated against them?
We children of the 1970s saw our president wallow in scandal due to Watergate. It may seem like small beans in today's world, but in 1973 it was a hard pill to swallow. We had to deal with an oil embargo at a time many of us were just learning to drive! We had friends with older brothers and cousins who were draft dodgers and away in Canada. And then there was Charles Manson. Who looked as much like a peace protester as a monster! So fear was there right along side the feelings of "peace, love, dove". And to be honest it was hard to know what to trust.
I luckily never witnessed any racial struggles in person. Where I went to school everyone simply got along. But the conflicts elsewhere were televised, and caused me to wonder sadly why people couldn't just live and let live. Why was the tiny little piece of the world where I lived the only place the races respected and befriended each other? I remember on hot summer afternoons, my dad going to the mailbox to meet the postman with a glass of iced tea. Our postman was black, my dad white. Why couldn't others in America just give each other a drink when thirsty? Or accept it in the vain it was given?
Looking back at the generation of my teenaged years, I see so many changes today. Styles have changed, and in many cases changed back. Politics have changed. War has changed. The way news is reported has chaged. Even fear and hope have changed. And I know life itself is change. Without change we would stagnate. But I miss the feeling inside me from the 70s. The belief that everyone could, just maybe, "Come Togerther", and "Let it Be", as voiced by the Beatles. That we might somehow learn how to get it right and learn peace. Because today, sadly, I doubt we as a nation, (or as a world), will be able to pull it off. And even though I was confused about the revolution, I feel at times that now... it lives only in me.
We worry about the economy, the environment, global politics, possible pandimics, scientific advances, (to the good, or evil of mankind), and so many other very important issues. While homelessness rises. While children go hungry. While the rich get richer, and the poor barely survive. There is no room for the ideals of the young people of the 1970s. But... where did they go? Were the covictions of all those I aspired to join merely acting on a whim of the moment? Was the Vietnam War the one and only issue that called out for peace and love? Was that a dream only comprehensive for one generation? What has happened with the vote so urgently wanted?
So I must ask myself... what can I do?
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