eThoughts : The 1960s: Illusion and Promise

The 60s, in some way lasting until the end of the 70s, were an interesting and important time as I see it. Yes, it was a bipolar era, full of promise and ruined, I think, by illusion. The inherent idea was about awareness, about higher consciousness, about learning and community–about evolving into a humanity of kinder, gentler beings. And yes, it was set in the backdrop of 3 assassinations, racial and gender struggles, the Vietnam War, and the collapse of America’s belief in the honesty of our government.

As Hunter S. Thompson more or less noted, the promise of the 60s may have risen up to create a new shoreline, but it receded back, leaving only the outline of that shoreline on the landscape of our ideas.

And so here we sit in 2004 while the business of hierarchy, of dishonesty, of ignorance, of greed, of self-righteousness continues. No, this is not a bitch session intent on indicting humanity as a whole–we have accomplished marvelous things, we are an amazing species, even with all of our flaws.

This is about a call to arms so to speak. It is about moving forward with the essential idea of the 60s (which was not the only era attempting to accent an improvement in awareness). It is time for the ideas, and the subsequent realities of the 60s to return: polishing the quality of our awareness and not so much the quality of our authority.

One of the reasons for the “failure” of the 60s was exclusion, the creating of “us and them,” even while trying to embrace higher awareness. This dichotomy was ironic as it was not just the construct of the “establishment” at the time, it was inherent in the very ones seeking to grow. When Timothy Leary put out the call to “turn on, tune in, and drop out,” he was splitting the field into those who just didn’t get “it” and those that either got “it” or wanted to get “it.” Of course the “it” was supposed to be about heightened awareness, but the exclusive nature of the call to “drop out” wound up creating yet another hierarchy.

We do like our tyrants, our enemies, and we can seem to do little growing without them, even if we do little growing with them.

It doesn’t work. And it doesn’t take heightened awareness to see that.

What if we recalled the idea of polishing awareness and dropped the dichotomy of those that have it and those that don’t? What if we started a movement (again) that focused less on being better relative to others and focused more on being better relative to our own awareness? What if we learned the distinction between having a preference and making a judgment? What if we could be right and not be a messiah and be wrong and not be ostracized?

Ahhh, you say–but there will always be those that don’t agree, and that don’t agree to the point they feel justified usurping the space, the freedom, and the lives of others.

Yep, you’d be right. But does that mean we have to contribute?

But, the argument goes, the price of freedom is blood and sacrifice, and many have and will suffer for such a sacred gift. In fact, if we dropped our holy dichotomy, the sacrifice of our ancestors will go unrewarded, their blood and suffering standing for nothing. We will have shown our disdain at their contribution.

Does anyone think our ancestors demand that we add to the suffering and sacrifice by killing in their memory? Perhaps that’s why it’s called a sacrifice–so that no one else has to do it and the sacrifice can stop.

Ahhh, you say again–it will stop when we are no longer oppressed.

Right–like the human mind isn’t good at inventing oppression as fast as it can be taken care of. I suspect if we honestly looked at oppression, we would likely find that the preponderance of oppression is created by us rather than foisted upon us.

We are not fighting others, we are fighting ourselves. And if it continues, it is a fight we are guaranteed to lose.

I don’t have the answers, I am not a leader–I don’t even like the idea. And I recognize that authority is important at times–I do not demean that. I just don’t think it’s all that digestible as a constant meal. Besides, authority does not have anything close to the healing or enlightening powers of awareness.

I would like to revisit, 2004 and beyond style, the essential idea of the 60s, without the bitterness of creating and labeling others as the problem.

I don’t know how to do it, other than to reach out. I don’t know how pretty the learning will be, but that’s not the point–it is not about the fashion of awareness. I don’t know what structure it will take, other than one that has plenty of space in which to move. It will have structure–there’s no freedom without boundaries. But it is not the structure that is the final point, it is what we put in it that must remain our compass heading.

I do fervently ask for the consideration of the notion: let us emphasize and polish the quality of our awareness and not confuse it with an emphasis on polishing the quality of our authority.

We are ready for it I think. We need a new planet to explore. Let’s take one of the defining moments of the 60s, the landing on the moon, shift it to the seemingly intangible arena of our spirit and consciousness, and pull together to make a cooperative effort to journey to those far reaches of our attention and our awareness that will make our indomitable spirit less manifested in the realities of suffering and sacrifice, and more in the realm of joy and kinship.

And let’s dedicate ourselves to start now and to make our first landing before the end of the decade.

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