I used to visit my friend who worked at a UPS store, and was startled one day when this ordinarily gregarious young Irishman suddenly turned hostile and abrupt towards an older woman with hippie-ish airs (and the usual ratty rags that most hippies wear). “Why were you so abrupt with her?” I asked after she left, oblivious to his shift in attitude.
“Because she’s from that generation of hippies that tore this country apart,” he replied angrily. “Whatever those psychos did in the 60’s, we’re paying the price now. Stupid idiots!” He was a vocal and passionate conservative (even as he was dating a flaky and pretentious yoga practitioner), so I wasn’t exactly surprised by his loathing of hippies. His sentiments moved me deeply because, in fact, they were so similar to my own. I have often been baffled by all that took place in the 60’s. Sit-in’s? LCD? The Beatles? Disheveled-looking teen-agers in tie-dyed shirts rejecting their parents’ values just so they could sit around and smoke pot all day? Burning bras? Busing black kids into white schools? Race riots? Anti-war protests which looked even more warlike than the notorious war in Vietnam? Spitting at returning veterans?
“America went mad in the 60’s,” a social commentator once said, “and we have never been the same since.” Personally, I don’t think that such chaotic, vociferous, and primitive methods of protest are necessarily the right way to change the world; the changes that these methods bring about are often very abrupt and ill-advised, meant only to appease the angry mobs. Perhaps, for instance, there was a better way to “integrate” American society than to dump the blacks into the laps of the whites? Perhaps neither side was ready for this emotionally? (After all, the whites just fled to the suburbs anyway, and the blacks found themselves the inheritors of inner-city areas that they were typically too poor to maintain according to the previous standards — thus giving birth to the modern-day “ghetto” and all of its attendant problems and head-aches. Some would even argue that many of the blacks are in a worse position socioeconomically now than they were then … so what did all of this really accomplish?)
It’s hard to understand what all that anger was about, especially when it’s so painfully obvious that its consequences were far more complicated, and less promising, than the political pundits would have us believe. “There are far worse things in this world than being forced to sit in the back of a bus,” I wrote philosophically in my journal. I should know. I sit in the back of the bus not because of any sign which demands it, but because I am an oddball . . . a misfit . . . and people immediately sense this about me and feel intimidated. Their eyes clearly say what a sign might say: “Back of the bus for you, weirdo.” So what? I’ve learned to live with it, even prefer it; it’s more private, less crowded, and gives me the perfect seat to observe everyone else (one of my favorite pastimes). My point isn’t that people should accept being treated as second-class citizens, but there are more enlightened responses to dealing with life’s little conundrums than marching with angry mobs and holding up poster boards with scribbled political slogans. Furthermore, let me say what so few people have said: when you are a minority living anywhere in the world, there will always be certain inconveniences because the host culture naturally favors the majority. That’s not “racism,” that’s human nature! That’s just the way we are wired. If I were to take 100,000 Italians and move them to The Ivory Coast, or Cameroon, or anywhere else in Black Africa, we would be the minority there; when we turn on the TV, we would see Black Africans broadcasting the news and starring in their own shows. That’s life. Deal with it.
It all seems so idiotic sometimes, the result of a population of people that is so obsessed with this ridiculous notion of “equality” that they lose all sense of perspective; they lose, also, their humility, their sense of humor, their grace, and their ability to take things in stride. “100% equality is not only impossible,” I wrote. “It’s unnatural. A false construction. A man-made concept that we are constantly striving for, often at our own peril. We have only to look to Nature to verify this. An earthworm is not a hippopotamus. An ant is not a giraffe. They may all have their place, but to insinuate that they’re ‘equal’ is an inconceivable absurdity.”
The constant push for this ever-elusive “equality,” then, as it was played out in the tumultuous 60’s, disrupted the plate-tectonics of human civilization and brought forth a sort of disagreeable chaos which has been with us ever since, rising and falling in accordance with the mood of the moment. But what infuriates me more than anything is: WHY DID THE CONSERVATIVES LET THIS HAPPEN? Where were they? Why didn’t they fight back? Why did they let the Yowdies do this to the beautiful society they had created? Wasn’t there a more civilized way to dealing with society’s problems? They took away our Mayberry and gave us Hell . . . and the conservatives just seemed to sit back and let it happen. Why? Why? Why?
The answer is simple: most conservatives are Christians, and the one tragic flaw in Christians is their chronic passivity. They “turn their cheek” so much that they never seem to take action when action is needed — and then they inevitably wake up one day to find that the world has changed unfavorably and they are once again the persecuted outsiders in their own lands (which is exactly what is happening now). Christians, as a whole, tend to be so utterly fixated on babies (both born and unborn) and young children — having children, raising children, etc. — that they don’t always pay as much attention as they should to what is going on in the larger world.
If I were the President of the United States during the 60’s, I would’ve had my men round up all the psychos, all the dissenters, all the bra-burners and I would’ve said in no uncertain terms: “I am not going to allow all or any of you to ruin this great nation for everyone else. It is my duty, as the leader of this nation, to protect the citizens from threats both external and internal. So you have three choices:
1 – STOP;
2 – Leave;
3 – Well, I don’t think you want to opt for the third choice.”
Oh, how I wish that someone would’ve employed the third choice.Tags: Christians dissenters hippies the tumultuous 60's