Thursday, November 11, 2004

WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE?
by Dan Duncan

Despite narrowly squeaking out a victory in the election, George W. Bush chose to view this as a mandate, saying “I earned capital in this campaign…and now I intend to spend it.” This brings to mind the expressions “be careful what you ask for because you might get it” and “those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” Get ready America. The seeds of a social revolution are being sown with this election and all that comes from it. I find myself feeling much as I did as a young man when my generation felt it necessary to speak out and protest when we saw America heading in the wrong direction. At that time, like many baby boomers, I found myself gradually losing my pride of America and of being an American. I remember feeling disheartened, discouraged and disgusted as the Vietnam war went on and on, and more and more of my generation came home in body bags. Our protests were necessary and ultimately instrumental in impacting the nation’s conscience. We spoke out against that which we felt was wrong and through a largely non-violent and peaceful revolution, effectively silenced the old-guard conservatives who demanded we either love or leave the country. What they failed to understand is we did love the country. Young though we may have been, much of my generation saw that one of the strengths of America was the allowance of dissent and civil disobedience as part of what made it strong, unique and self-correcting; humble enough to face it’s mistakes, resilient enough to become stronger as a result.

Now I find myself feeling much as I did back then. I don’t like what I see happening in America. Once again, disheartened, discouraged and disgusted. Once again not proud of America or being an American, and I wonder about the promise of my generation? Sadly, I see us failing to live up to our potential or self-intent. We were to be the generation that would address unbridled materialism, foster a non-judgmental and more loving spirituality, conquer the disgrace of racism and above all, no longer use our young people as fodder for old men’s unnecessary and macho wars of will and ideology. Instead, much of my generation has evolved into a generation of dittoheads, who embrace not the best of what our potential might have been but the worst of what Rush Limbaugh and his clones now spew out daily throughout the media. What a shame. The Flower Power Generation, for all its foibles and failings, had at its roots the ideals of peace and love, perhaps the most intelligent and noble of all human aspirations. Intelligence, however, can be held hostage by human emotions. Case in point is 9-11. 9-11 created a situation to which we must respond in the interest of protecting ourselves, but if that response is purely visceral and retaliatory, we lose the wisdom necessary to recognize the difference between a politically based opportunity and an appropriate course of action. With this loss of wisdom we lose much more than we can afford to lose, we lose our integrity. Proof positive that when emotions take over, logic flies out the window.

I can already hear the response of the neo conservatives. With all their holier-than-thou piety, they would declare me to be naïve, stupid or unpatriotic. I am none of those. What I am is not unique. What I am is one of many who see compassionate conservatism as an oxymoron and feel disgusted with the nauseating religious extremism that has imposed itself into America’s government, so ironically making us more and more like those very countries we have disdain for (and go to war with). It is evident that the neo-conservative ideologues would have us believe they have all the answers, they know best, their actions purely patriotic and if you disagree with them, well…you know the rest. Intelligent Christians in America understand the wisdom of keeping church and state separate. What concerns me however, is the evangelical Christians. Their type of religious extremism can be found in other religions and in other countries, always with the same results of division, acrimony and ultimately, wars that kill people in the name of God. So, I have this to say. If you don’t like what is going on in this country you’d better be prepared to speak out, and do not allow yourself to be intimidated. If you love America but see it becoming an America you are concerned about, or worse yet, ashamed of, you’d better be prepared to act out. I bang the gong of the new generation. Shake off your apathy, vote, get active and get involved in the mechanics of your country. After all, it is your friends and peers that will arrive home in the body bags now and it is your generation that will benefit, or not, from the decisions of the Bush administration. I must also speak to my own generation. Don’t let the ideals we stood for as young people die. Wake up and remember yet another expression we were known for…either you’re part of the problem or you’re part of the solution.

Dan Duncan
St. Louis


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