All You Need is Love -
For the Chime of our Lives
by M.L. Faunce
Sometimes anniversaries make us feel old; often, they just make us think.
We all have our defining moments and pivotal years. One of mine was 1968. The '60s were a time for seeking peace, waging war or making love, according to the critics. It was an age of innocence from flower power to flowers in our hair. It was a period of innocence lost to clashes in the streets and battles at home as well as abroad. It was an age of protest and resistance and the beginning of looking at the air we breathe, the land we live on and the water we use in an entirely new way.
1968 followed the so-called "summer of love," a year of loud political protests over the Vietnam War and even louder music. Mine was not the only generation to suffer hearing loss at the hands of musicians, but like now, Jimi Hendrix's vibrations did some serious damage back then. To soothe those frazzled ear drums, we had Mama and the Papas, and the Beatles and Strawberry Fields Forever. Scott McKenzie took us to San Francisco with flowers in our hair. And a movie, The Graduate, would be made just in time for the college deferment crowd.
Thirty years ago was dominated by movements: antiwar protests, cries about social injustice and a push for Civil Rights. To many, it seemed like our country was splitting in two. In some ways, it was. The revolution that hit the nation and is remembered as "heady times" was played out in modest neighborhoods like my own, and in small scenarios, like this: A doorstep away from ours, a mother whose son didn't return home from Vietnam had sharp words with my mother.
But my brother's turn, if thankfully not his time, would come too. Graduating as his college class valedictorian and Man of the Year, he wore the uniform of a Marine Corps officer. Other graduates wore black arm bands. I'm glad my father, who proudly watched the ceremony, didn't make the connection. His generation may have taken sides, but they didn't wear their causes on their sleeves out of protest like in 1968.
That same year, the nation lost two leaders, a black man and a white man who believed in the same goals but were mourned in very different ways. And when we landed on the moon, some said it was done with mirrors. It was that kind of year: a time when the "system" was challenged - as well as us personally. Remembered now, 1968 - and the '60s in general - is a period as disdained by some as it is revered by others. Not even time and distance have completely softened each side. But history is not so much water under the bridge as accumulation of experience that helps us see beneath the surface and understand it all a little better. Thirty years later, the events of 1968 are still being weighed. Like us, balance is not fully achieved. So pondering continues. It's a process as liberating as the '60s.
One of my favorite quotes at the time came from Benjamin Disraeli: "Youth is a time to go flashing from one part of the world to another, to test the manner of the world and to hear the chimes at midnight."
Of course, ringing in the New Year (if you can awaken that late), or a new century or just another day is also a good time to celebrate special anniversaries, fond and serious. It can help us hear the chimes of our youth. Or just make us think.
Peace and love.
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Volume VI Number 1
January 8-14, 1998
New Bay Times
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