PHOTO: Franklin / AP
“I was a child in the sixties
Dreams could be held through TV
With Disney, and Cronkite, and Martin Luther
Oh, I believed, I believed, I believed
Nanci Griffith – It’s A Hard Life
I’m in my mid-fifties and I was a child of the sixties. I grew up with the momentum of foreign protests igniting protest marches in my own country aimed at restoring civil rights to minorities that couldn’t be distinguished by colour, but was based on religious belief.
I enjoyed the hope of the technological revolution during the”power years” of my late-20s and early 30s.
We enjoyed the drive for equality in a country that at one time lagged behind the rest of the developed word by a decade. Equality brought about by the kind of unity that EU membership offered a small island nation on the edge of the continent. As a country we were treated as equals and I believe we rose to the challenge.
It looked like we were on the way to a “next step” in human evolution and then the bubble burst.
My generation dropped the ball. We allowed complacency and greed to cloud our judgement and the drive toward tolerance and equality our parents fought so hard for through two world wars, the protest movement of the sixties and seventies, and the solidarity movements of the eighties. The banks collapsed and the world went with them.
The shock of this allowed for self-preservation to become the new watchword. Calls to “put America first” could have originated anywhere in the so-called developed world. What it is really saying is “put me first”.
The rise of the personality cult leader taking over the governance of once enlightened countries has been permitted by this “put me first” attitude and, in some way, by a reinvigorated fear of “the other”. Scared, disempowered and disenfranchised people have used cracked democratic structures to elect cult leaders who play on their fears and reduce them as human beings. They have fallen into the tired and out-dated notion that the men (and some women) with money and power know best how to fix our lives.
This backwards slide in the evolution of thought has left us with the re-emergence of open slavery. Where refugees are being traded on the open market and increasingly right wing governments are unable or unwilling to do what the Abolitionists set out to do hundreds of years ago.
There is hope however and it lives in our children and our grandchildren who, despite being accused of being “snowflakes”, have been motivated to give life back to the right to peaceful protest. My generation has, in my opinion, failed to keep up the momentum of positive change, but it’s not too late to show pride in our children’s strength and join them in attempting to fix what will soon enough be their world and not just our broken legacy.
That is of course just my view. Maybe you see if differently?