I am now an adult in the sixth decade of his life (oh well, fine, I’m sixty), but I am a child of the Sixties and a member of the Woodstock Generation. During my college years, I protested (peacefully and with no dishonoring of those who served) the Vietnam War, participated in the first Earth Day, first learned of the word “ecology”, witnessed the growth of the Women’s Movement and felt the tensions of racial turmoil, watched the moon landing on a black& white TV and railed against the “Establishment” (of which I am now a well-entrenched member.) These days my musical tastes run a much wider gamut (Led Zep to Eminem and Mozart to Bennett); I still rail against the Establishment . . . at least that quadrant of it comprising people from my generation who apparently have lost their way and who now value financial wealth at the expense of the well-being of their fellow beings and Mother Earth. That said, I harbor no one ill will and try to find room in my heart for all of us bozos (a/k/a human beings). Ah, but I digress . . .
On a recent trip to D.C. for a work-related conference, my eyes fell upon tableaus that could easily have been seen throughout that city in the 60s/70s (and probably represent part of the fabric of Washington life since the founding of the Republic. Walking the streets with a colleague of younger generation, it struck me that for him these images were awe inspiring, in the sense of being an eyewitness to history. For me, they evoked nostalgia for a time when people of my generation seemed to actually care for more than themselves and, indeed, focussed their voices to address key threats to humankind’s continued existence (war, poverty, the environment, equality).
This year’s crop of protestors, including the so-called “Occupy Now” movement, seem untethered to any unifying cause. To this admittedly jaundiced eye, the participants seem unorganized and not singing from the same song book. Like the iPod generation, they each are marching to their own drummers, probably as earnest as we were but not likely to achieve any particular ends for lack of cohesiveness. To me, they dissipate their power by their fractured goals. Who knows, I’m probably completely wrong.
These images could have been taken in the 60s/70s front of Nixon’s White House. I couldn’t afford to participate then and today I’m more wistful than angry. So it goes.