Some vindication . . .

24 April 2008 at 4:39 am 1 comment

Johnson campaign ad, nuclear fear. . . musings on the 40-year history of the foundation of Earth Day. 

During the days of rage the air was crackling with coming change.  “Don’t bother to study for exams,” we told each other, only half joking.  “The revolution will come before finals week.”  The profound frustration we felt for not being heard, not being listened to when people were dying every day for no reason other than the hubris of powers-that-be, the white men in power playing at Daddy Warbucks, raking in the cash, was in our bones.  We were so sickened by the waste of it, it spread out to encompass our view of all US society:  our disgust at the narrow roles proscribed for women; the strata of working class vs. the haves; the confusion at the undercurrent of racism; the bizarre priorities of the corporate world; the amazing proliferation of people, people reproducing themselves everywhere, covering the planet with trash; and ultimately, the terror that all that was expected of us was to finish school and settle into an adult life of working for wages.  “How on earth can we not be listened to?   How in gods’ name would we ever make it into the next century?” we asked incredulously.

 Duck and cover

Some in my crowd dropped out of school, not wanting to be beholden to parents’ expectations, feeling a need to earn our own livings if we wanted to be taken seriously.  Small victories (in no particular order):  Johnson aired his anti-Goldwater TV ad of a child considering the flower in her hand as a nuclear cloud spread in the distance behind her, and even our parents felt a little fear.  Johnson wasn’t running for a second term.  Nixon was ousted for his corruption.  The senseless war finally ended.  The ERA was being considered in Congress.  Earth Day was established.  “Thank the lord and the stars and Buddha and Allah, the world might make sense by the time we hit our thirties.”  Following the absurd administrations of Johnson, Nixon, and Reagan, someone we voted for won an election . . . and then proceeded to bow and bend his principles in order to stay in office.  Then Bush.  How astonishing.  Bush.  “Bush-sh-shed,” as Olbermann says every night.


Some of us old hippies are still honestly wondering how we got here, to the point where snafu (status-normal-all-fucked-up) was actually in the American lexicon.  Frontline re-aired its history of environmental movement in honor of Earth Day this week.  It was fascinating to see that there were tangible false starts and stops as the general awareness of environmental damage became to be addressed.  Fascinating to see through adult eyes that there was some basis for our naïve hopes of 30-40 years ago.    



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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. thewildhare  |  29 April 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Oh Althea Janine! I remember droping under the desks with the sirens! I haven’t seen a picture of that in forever! And still my righteous anger at everything that has come to pass in the name of the almighty dollar burns in my heart.

    I can’t believe what I see and hear, and I can’t believe that people allow themselves to turn off their thinking. Yet, Stanley Schmidt, editor of Analog SF, reminds me all the time that these people vote too. Ah.

    And I do agree with you, it is a small vindication, to see the world move as we expected, to see the environment faced with danger, and to FINALLY see the response in society. I am holding tight to my own truth in these days, and if anything, this vindication removes all my doubts about being true to what I see, know, and believe.

    I hope I taught my daughter such.


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