By Grayce Goin
A strange and somehow telling variety of songs have been floating through my head the past few weeks, everything from The Kingston Trio to Cole Porter, a little Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life.” They went on to the Beatles and the Who and Stones and all the other beloved groups of my rock and roll generation; my mind finally settled on “Where have all the flowers gone?”
It started me thinking about who I was then and who I am now. I came to realize that on the inside I am the same person I have always been. My Facebook profile picture is 40 years old, but my cover photo was taken only last year. I didn’t think about it at the time but have come to realize that that combination is a perfect description of who I am. The profile pic is a little fuzzy and a bit out of focus as that 22 year old is to me now. The cover photo shows a much older, hopefully wiser version unafraid of adventure, regardless of how much complaining my knees might do in the process.
It reminded me that I still have the same dreams for the world as I had then, tinctured with a dose of skepticism and maybe even a little cynicism. I remember reading a mea culpa Dave Barry had written some years ago for our generation, my reaction at that time was one of anger, how dare he arrogate unto himself the status that would have afforded him the right to do so. Now I only feel sorry for him to have lost that spark of hope, that little butterfly from Pandora’s Box that seemed to motivate us during a war that never should have been entered into and an administration that thumbed its nose at the world and at its own countrymen.
I look at the 22 year olds of today and can only sympathize with their anger towards us. So many of us succumbed to the lure of money and status; so many of us overdosed either accidentally or intentionally; and so very many of us gave up on the political system, the same one that for the last thirty plus years has been tearing this country apart.
Had we kept fighting for what we knew to be right, maybe the demonization of the other political side might have died a quick death rather than be the standard operating procedure of today. Maybe the 24-hour news stations would be more likely to objectively report the news rather than distort or invent their own versions. Maybe the likes of Rupert Murdoch never would have gained a toe-hold in our country. And, just maybe, our “elected officials” would not be on the auction block to be picked up by the highest bidder while selling the rest of us down the polluted river of big business.
Maybe the 22 year olds of today will find an approach that will wipe out the more obvious signs of our neglect, either by forcing the government to stop the destruction of our home, Earth, or buying back our media from foreigners who so love watching us tear each other apart. This media that use the demonization trick to belittle the poor, the sick, the hungry. So many things that could be done would have the side effect of helping to care for the less fortunate among us.
How do we encourage the 22 year olds today to make a wish on that butterfly, to see that there are many in the country just like them that want a better future for all? We need to find a way to show them where our generation hit those brick walls and post detour signs. We must convince them that we have the same wish for the future that they do and are more than willing to help them along the way.
My internal playlist led me to understand that every generation has its own panoply of songs that convey not only love, but also hope, disappointment and even despair. The words and back beat may have changed; the heart behind them has not. There is hope but only with the stifling of the divisiveness and demonization that has gotten us to where we are now.