“There were lynching in the sixties,” she said to me. I had to forgive her on the grounds of youth. After all, she was half my age. In her mind, there was a nothin’s changed attitude with cycles of ups and downs in the economy, political ideologies and social interactions always swinging like the pendulum on a clock, but in my mind there was too much missing context in her thinking.
Following her line of thinking, it was easy to rewrite history. You could take the surface data, and match them up side by side–the 60’s and this year’s racist displays– and to an extent I’d have to agree with her, though I knew how misguided she was. I had woken up to the understanding she was refusing to succumb to, and started to think it through more. The words Climate Change came to me in a new way.
We think of climate change as related to the environment, but what about our social environment? And that is the key. The social milieu of the sixties was one that welcomed change. The present social environment is one that wants to cling to centuries of old ideas, even if they have become stodgy and no longer fit the times or the needs of the people. It is a ‘retro’ mentality at not its finest hour, but at its most rigid and antiquated, even if the profit only goes to those whose pockets are already stuffed with bills. People don’t like admitting when they’re bamboozled. As a result, you have an adult culture trying to cling to old ways as if they will be saved by them. Meanwhile, those holding the purse strings redefine core values into something they were never meant to be with a bait and switch attitude keeping people in a survival mode, while they take the money and the jobs away from the people of this country, unless you are one of the ones allocated to play their game.
In the sixties, you had a culture that produced jobs. My first stabs at looking for employment in the New York Times on Sunday was sifting through four inches deep of newsprint pages. I’d mark off on Sunday more jobs than I would ever call, and by Monday evening I would have four courses of Interviews per day. Employers called you back to let you know if you hadn’t made the grade, but of course there was enough staff at companies in those days—even walking into a place like Target, there were employees at every section ready to help you. You didn’t have to scout them out. You didn’t have to press one for God, two for his assistants and three for the dark side, when you called a business (let alone for anything medical). In an atmosphere like that, you found a job in two weeks if you had any skills, and often you would be trained on the job and promoted from within–manufacturing jobs had not been hijacked overseas.
Feminism arose to the call of equal pay and equal rights in that abundant atmosphere. Walking down the streets of Manhattan past construction sites, cat calls changed to seeing women in hard hats, even if they were in the minority. Still you had an economy, which could support a woman staying home to raise her children, and heck she could always go back to school afterwards without being in debt for the rest of her life, and start a new career while the kids were in school. You had a generation of freed thinkers who did not want to sit and just be couch potatoes. Archie Bunker was alive and well, if you wanted to strum the boob tube. People were exploring their inner being not just what would put money in their wallets. Meditation became a known word. Going to India and visiting other countries was high on the agenda list of many–making international friends awesome.
In that kind of burgeoning environment, the Civil Rights Movement grew. But when the shots rang out that killed the Kennedys, King and Sadat fear resonated in people’s hearts the sacrifices entailed by the voices of freedom. It moved like a shock wave through the nation. Hippies became yuppies, job jumping and who gave the best benefits replaced hanging on to things, which one needed to give loyalty to. The divorce rate soared. The bedrock of a culture of experiment with change was closing in on itself, and those who wanted the power back in their hands took advantage of the times, which sought for the nirvana of an environment of trust and harmony. Slowly like a cancer those who never wanted to see anything like another Vietnam protest movement again, ruptured trust’s membrane and catapulted society down the garden path with a politically correct need for survival, as an aftermath doing nothing but pleasing the stockholders..
As a result of all of this, we have fallen to our knees in the face of the new demigod of Corporate Personhood, or is it parenthood. Parenthood of the kind that abuses its children. The present killing of blacks, burning of churches and even lynching laid down in this retro environment, which does not want to let go of outdated modalities and fears intersecting, even if it drowns out this countries chances of survival, is not the climate of the sixties with its people ready to join hands. It is the old guard rising up in revenge and fear of annihilation amidst a populace becoming more and more deprived.
Unfortunately, these corporate giants are negligent in the recognition that what they are trying to hold fast to will bring down a worse annihilation than the one they are attempting to avoid. This time it will not be the dismantling of a Czar, or Imperial Family, or slave owners, it is the very foundation of this planet and her gifts, which is at stake, and only unity can overwhelm the abusive forms of corporate parenthood willing to rape and pillage her body.