The sixties, the decade of young people stepping up, getting involved, questioning the rules and defying the accepted from the length of hair to feminism. We were going to change the world to create a better place. It wasn’t just Woodstock and bell bottom pants. Many of us believed in what we were doing or at least in what we were criticizing. One college professor I recall saying complaints are empty words without accepting the responsibility of providing an alternative and acting accordingly. (sounds like so many of today’s elected types) Some of us took to the streets and others through our behavior acted out our rebellion and rejection of the status quo. Flower power and free love were the catch-all phrases. The hippy movement was in full swing. Young people were on the path to take control and change everything for the future. Their journey was to be a good one for all with more freedom, more concern for our fellow man and generally end in a better place. I believe that many young people believed as Herman Melville wrote in his civil war poems that “senior wisdom suits not now, the light falls on the youthful brow”. His was talk of war but this was a non-violent battle. Why did it end?
Some say the Vietnam War changed the youth from the “love” movement to the “peace” movement and perhaps it did. Vietnam was more than just a distraction but what happened to the peaceniks and the love generation? Did they seek other causes or give it all up in the 80’s pursuit of the dollar and furthering their mundane careers? That question is beyond my ability to interpret, except in one instance. One person continued on with his ideals and beliefs.
Bernie Sanders it appears stuck with his beliefs and continued his pursuit for the creation of a better place, a more equal place. I have not followed his career but knew of him and his beliefs as an elected independent long before his presidential bid. I have listened to his interviews on various issues and accept that he sincerely believes we can all do better and help create a more just society that provides education, health care, jobs and a decent standard of living for us all. I don’t know why people would object to educated people and a living wage. I have heard the complaints and concerns expressed by the better off and those in elected office who are their lackies. What I don’t comprehend is those whose lifestyles have benefited from the very actions which these people now oppose such as wages and benefits, work hours, regulations on the environment and healthcare to name a few. Senator Sanders does emphasize these concerns. In many ways this is a logical extension of the 60’s youth movement. The most disconcerting part to me is that those who oppose these concepts often are products of the 60’s. Did they lose their way or did they see the light? I tend to think that Senator Sanders still carries that light and is trying desperately to lead the way or at least to keep the pathway illuminated.
Whether Senator Sanders is electable as president is beyond my ability to prognosticate. He certainly is appealing to a significant group of the electorate. I want to believe that his supporters cross all ages, races and ethnic groups. Can he actually be elected, perhaps? If not him then his ideas and ideals should be by whomever ultimately is elected.
One thing I am sure of is that very few people ask “Bernie who”. I seem to recall not that long ago the word was that no African- American could be elected. Times do change and so do attitudes. Hooray for you Bernie.