Just after the rebellious 50’s (think West Side Story) my mom’s image of the perfect woman was Hollywood’s Doris Day. Then the‘60s finally took hold and everything changed.
Propelled by principled opposition to outdated values, youth of the ’60s joined the countercultural fight for feminism, environmental awareness, civil rights and peace.
And many of us, during JFK’s term, bought into the vision of President Kennedy’s ‘Peace Corps’ – thinking we could change the world by promoting world peace and friendship: “ask not what your country can do for you…”
We were wrong: the “Cold War”, the Cuban Missile Crises, and JFK’s assassination … the end of “Camelot”.
Then the Beatles and the “British Invasion” happened … and the situation, although serious, didn’t seem hopeless any more.
We also embraced Dylan’s protest song ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’ and ‘If I Had a Hammer’ by Peter, Paul and Mary – who also sang John Lennon’s, ‘Give Peace a Chance’ at the historical “I Have a Dream” rally by Martin Luther King Jr.
Like the ‘50’s, our parents didn’t like our rebellious attitude – as the ‘60s song by Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth’ seemed to capture: “Getting so much resistance from behind”.
Later, during our careers, we rebelled at work too and felt like ‘crash test dummies’ for our efforts, but we wanted those same hard-fought-for societal changes incorporated into business.
We never wanted to be anyone’s problem – but when you’re young and feel your back is up against the wall, you find out what you’re made of… what you’ve always been made of.
We may have been idealistic … with no clue how to go about things … but, like West Side Story rebelliousness, we knew what we were against: blind obedience.
“Well some say life/ will beat you down
Break your heart/ steal your crown”
– Learning To Fly by Tom Petty
Suddenly, we grew up – the world changed and we got older. Many of our heroes burned out, died or just faded away. We were on our own.
“So I’ve started out/ for God knows where
I guess I’ll know/ when I get there”
To paraphrase Malcolm Muggeridge (host of the TV series A Third Testament), he said the existentialist philosopher Kierkegaard talked of those who stick their heads up, only to have them chopped off by life’s great scythe of leveling, saying: “… leap then … into the ever loving arms of God.” Some did.
Now, 50 years later, our kids are where we were – raising families and trying to live life responsibly.
A ‘Zoomer’ boomer message to today’s youth: cultivate inner peace.
You can only do what you can do. So, after presenting yourself to the world – quoting from the greatest minds – still, just be you. A good friend once advised, “Keep tilting at ‘windmills’, especially your own!”
“I’m learning to fly/ but I ain’t got wings/ Coming down/ is the hardest thing”
Yet, I’ve been blessed. I found my love, ‘Maria’… but unlike West Side Story’s tragic outcome, I’ve lived “happily ever after.”