I don’t want to whine, so I won’t. Grieve, yes. Whine, no.
The title is a direct quote from Brian Wilson who felt overwhelmed by all of the changes in his world about 40 years ago.
I guess the dreams of my generation are over. I know that some people were never all that excited about the views of 60’s hippies. Further, I’m not exactly old enough to actually BE a 60’s hippie. I was 9 years old when Woodstock happened (but I was in Upstate New York at the time), but have always seen those days as exciting and good for America. I always felt more at home with my older peers than my own age-mates. Even still, I think my class in High School and college was the the last class who might have seen this coming and didn’t like it. This, then, is my view of history for the time I lived it, even with possible rose-colored glasses about it all.
When I was a kid, we wanted things to be better for everybody. We thought that if Black people could actually be a part of the political process, as despised as they had been in some places, then the world would be a place we could believe in. We were right. Then, we were against the war in Vietnam — not because we couldn’t win, but because war itself was wrong. We were right there also, I believe. Next, we thought that women we equal to men. We were right there. At the same time we started talking about ecology and taking care of the planet because air pollution and water pollution were killing us. Yup, we were right there, too.
Then, it became about sex — gay folks (“homosexuals” back then) had the right to have sex without being arrested. People could have sex because it felt good and they could have it as often as they wanted with who ever they wanted, because it was good. Women could have abortions for the same reasons they could now have orgasms — because it was their body, and their life to live. Later, we came to understand gay people and found they were more than a sex drive. Except for the sex without commitment thing, I think we got it right, to this day. I’m not for abortion, but I still believe that women are intelligent people and sometimes intelligent people have to make difficult decisions. It’s when unintelligent people start making decisions that I think we mess up, so I like intelligent women and men wrestling with their consciences in a free society where discussion happens and people have what they need.
Then, something happened. Maybe it was disco or maybe cocaine or maybe conservatives pushed back, I don’t know. I like to think it was Jordache Jeans. I remember jeans being what everyone wore, because they were cheap and we were one people. Then someone figured out that they could make five times the price for these things that used to make us all look equal by sewing a horse’s head on the butt pocket. Now, it was about sex and money and we bought it. Music was no longer about people, it was about sex. Where we used to think we were too fast-paced, suddenly it was about cocaine to make things go faster — and money bought cocaine and cocaine bought sex and life was no longer about beauty of nature and equality for people. We’d had enough of that. Now, it was about greed and speed and to hell with anyone else.
To make things worse, our “Uncle Ronnnie” came to power and told us we were right to believe in greed and be self-interested. We went in the wrong direction fast, because suddenly hippies were wrong and it was personal. It was ok if whites had more power. It was ok if men became violent. It was patriotic to tell unions off. It was ok if women had all the orgasms they wanted, but they couldn’t have abortions, because it wasn’t their decision. They were smart enough to claim their bodies, but they could no longer claim they had minds without men, who “obviously” knew more. We were going to “correct” the “mistakes” of the 60’s and re-write history. When Reagan said we should have\could have won Vietnam, people believed him. And we fought mini-wars to prove it to ourselves. Since then, we continue to fight wars because “that’s what we do”, not because we actually believe in any particular country’s freedom, but because war is what we do. It’s who we are.
Yes, Clinton got two terms, but the entire last one was spent defending himself because he wasn’t “moral” enough to run the country. Then it was Bush Jr and were into mindless greed and mindless war and mindless life, all the while calling ourselves “Christians” and “Patriots” for living that way, actually despising “liberals” for being “unpatriotic” and not-the-right-kind of Christian because we weren’t for capitalism at all costs.
Did any of this work for us? Were more people getting what they needed? It probably looked like it for a while, but it wasn’t true. No one needed a mansion or a Lexus or a Hummer, but they thought so anyway. And things got bad, and things got worse.
So, finally, they got so bad that we elected a man of incredible ideals and rhetoric and I had hope again. But those people who came after my generation yelled even louder, demanding what didn’t work and saying it had to. They-of-the-louder-voice fought to keep liberal voices from “taking over” because we and our ideals threatened their ideals. We looked like Rodney King. All the while we were being beaten verbally, the people in charge told us they felt threatened. They weren’t even going to talk to us unless they got their way. Last night, they won. We lost.
I don’t get it. I want peace, they want war. I want justice, they want injustice. I want equality, they want inequality. Their “girls” are taken more seriously than our women. The economy is in the tank. A few people get rich while a lot of people get poor. There’s a bigger gap between rich and poor. Nobody has a job. No one can afford their houses, but “they” win? Really? Yes.
I guess I just wasn’t made for these times. When my time comes back, call me. In the meantime, I’ll be busy helping poor people, believing in women’s intelligence and trying to secure housing for people of all colors. It doesn’t look like I’ll run out of things to do.