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Friday, August 5, 2011

Lest We Forget

Last week I ran across an assignment to a writing class about “the things we should never forget.” A moment ago I was talking to a “friend” from the past and misted up. It brought to mind the fact that I should each day make sure to remember where I came from.

I was raised by what we call “God fearing” people in a medium sized southern town with growing pains. My grade school feet were firmly planted in the Fifties … crew cuts and deck pants, late Fifties cars with fins, bobby socks and pony tails, Elvis and people still being baptized in the river back where my parents came from.

Then came the Sixties. We thought we could change things. Bring down “the man” and create a society that could wage peace rather than war. We thought we could “love” each other (we were a bit confused about what love was) We wanted change.

Many considered drugs to be a bridge to this utopian ideal. Carlos Castaneda wrote about peyote-induced visions. Some revisited Native American practices with the intent of expanding their minds. They ended up “using to live and living to use.”

We “bridged” into the Seventies of disco and  urban rodeo until popping out the other side we began to realize that the utopia had become a hell of sorts and we were wallowing in it. Some started families so their children had “hippie parents” or worse suburban recreational “users” with a morally diversified value system. Funny though, a lot of the children in that generation did just as each generation does and went in the other direction.

Turns out we weren’t that important after all … mostly just spoiled rotten little brats doing whatever “felt good.” We had ridden Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet” and “rolled” like Dylan’s stone. What we found was that there was “a hole in Daddy’s arm where all the money goes.”

Crawling out of that slippery hole was too much for some and they gave their lives on the “altar of change and love”. Some eventually saw light and a hand up and realized that there was a “time for every season under heaven” and were reborn.

Funny … when we were having race riots in high school people were bringing chains and knives to school. Hate, fear and anger filled the air so thick it was nauseating. In the end the “Jesus Freaks” walked up the steps and reached out a hand to a black girl. She took it and they walked out onto the grass together. He lifted her onto his shoulders with the help of his buddies. Before it was over we were all crying and hugging and shaking hands. Everybody began to sing folk songs. Even the angriest were neutralized by this exhibition of peace and love.

So today sometimes we remember. Our "TM mantras" are gone and in their place are the eyes of our children. We began with hope and it turns out that was the real bridge. Hope for a brighter future … hope for a world that wages peace not war … hope that we can “find the cost of freedom … buried in the ground. Mother Earth will swallow you. Lay your body down." , so that on the other side of that bridge of hope we can rise up to a new beginning ... unless we forget.

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