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Similarity, Community, Values and Human Nature - Part I

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Flower Power and the 'Woodstock Generation'

We will start with a characterization of the sixties and the generation that grew to become 'flower power'. Were they unique from the past and current youth? Were they any better of worse than the rest? Or, were they just different? To find the answer to these questions, one must return to Woodstock to understand. But for one who was born after this time, it may prove to be difficult. So let me help. The sixties became a decade of unimaginable cultural turmoil, that had its toll on every family and the society at large. What happened and what was the significance? Simple but, the privileged youth of parents from a loving generation began to ask questions. Questions that no one should even consider asking, and certainly are never asked in polite company. Why are these people different than us, daddy? Why did you go to the Pacific during the war? Just what is wrong with my music anyway? And why am I suppose to do what those government people tell me? So, what answers did they hear from their parents? They are different because they are not like us. Leave them alone, stay with your own kind. Marry someone from the church and take the job at my plant. As for the second, I went because my country called me! We all have to do time that we may not want to do, especially for your country. I really don't want to talk about it anymore . . . And that music is the devil's work. You can't understand what they are saying. Its too loud and you are starting to move your hips. And finally, those government people are here to help you! You are suppose to obey the policeman. And they just know what is best for us. Well, somehow those answers just seem lacking or just plain wrong. Why?

It was not because this generation attended church more or was taught any better in school. Nor was it because they were happy and secure living in their ethnic neighborhoods or their suburban tracks. It wasn't even that they had all they wanted to eat, clothes to wear and gadgets to play with. It was because they knew, subconsciously; but consistently, that something was wrong, really wrong with their life and surroundings. They could not explain, but that feeling was ever present. They had everything, so what was the problem? Well, the slightest hint of the notion that 'Everything Is Not Enough', began to dawn on them. For they had not learned the lessons of the depression not the bloodshed of the war, by the hunger in their own stomachs the scars on their body. So just what would satisfy this need; no this requirement, to get and have Everything?

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And that is how the decade preceeded. The accounts of all the conflicts, marches, demonstrations, love ins, trips - both road or head; are but segments of the journey, 'to discover', the much larger 'cosmic consciousness' of the search they were living.

So what of this Woodstock, half a million strong? It only lasted a few days, the weather was bad and it was so crowded? And I heard they only had all those ancient tunes?

It is true we were all 'are', our own selves. We each had the good sense to dress up in just 'fab duds' that meant we are cool. No grease down hair for this love machine. And who was not proud that days, if not weeks; were but a vague memory of a good time? We were ourselves and no one was going to tell us, (sorry, me), what to do. But want's it 'THE' place to go? Would we not miss out if we just stayed in our crib? PARTY man, let's get in the car and if it doesn't work, we will hitch. No tickets at this place. So the stage was set, and off we went.

So what did we find? Well, it may vary from person to person, for we are still each unique. But what this one kool cat found was that there 'really' was a lot of aimless and searching people looking for answers, and not always finding all of them. Those questions were the same, along with a lot more, queries that they asked their dad just a few years ago. They still wanted to know the score! But where would the answers be found? Yes, Yes, Yes . . . They were all rate here! They were all around us. They were all wet like me and cold and hungry and needed to find a bath room. They all became one with the music and sang on. They all saw in their neighbor a person just like themselves. They saw the light and hope was created. I now can believe! Yes, its 'Community'. I have found it at last!

Now that was the pinnacle of the decade. It lasted but a few fleeting moments, but the height that was reached was beyond any of our dreams. But, alas; it would never be attained again, no matter how hard we would try. We did not know it then but the slide just began. But you ask, what was the very moment that you knew that you have found the meaning of 'community' and where it was? It wasn't after just singing: " Hell, No; I won't Go" . . . Along with a half a million more. No it was just after that, when the National Guard helicopter flew into the crowd to bring badly needed medical help and supplies. It may have been the only time for many years that we felt they were 'US' and we were really part of them. They came not to confront, but to assist. They came not to destroy, but to serve. And they came as Americans that we all could be proud of, with love, as our brothers. We all learned that day, that it was all right to cherish your government if it acts in a manner that deserves respect. We all learned that day, that each one of us desperately wanted to freely give that allegiance; if only we could live under a just and humane government. And we all learned, that each one of us were all part of that larger society, beyond our self; and it felt GREAT . . .

Yes, I know that it can exist. But It never came back to me in that same way. So the dream can be achieved. Its just that I doubt you can base an entire 'Unified Theory' on keeping it alive, all the time. I wish it would be possible to regain that era. However, the realities of modern society will most likely not breed the conditions that allowed for this journey of discovery. The greatest lesson that this generation came to understand, is that each of us must be true to our view of the 'good', and attempt to share that with each of our 'community' members. But it would take a few more decades for us to come to know the meaning of what that 'good', truly is. For our concept of it, at the time was flawed, even though the intentions were pure. But that story is for another time.

We came to respect and yearn for this fulfillment of all those questions we asked our fathers. Maybe with sincere and through dedicated efforts we can find a way to lead us to achieve this dream, in the real world. I wish you luck in leading the way. Sorry to say, I will only be able to help you see when the way becomes blocked. For 'Community' is not our normal condition, only one that should be. So what is a good man to do? To be continued . . . .

SARTRE

The only kind of freedom that the mob can imagine is freedom to annoy and oppress its betters,
 and that is precisely the kind that we mainly have. - H.L. Mencken

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