The Sixties December 31, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in The Sixties.
Tags: 1960s, activism.berkeley, autobiography, roger hollander
(A teaching assistant in one of my Polisci courses at Berkeley – I’ve long forgotten his name or what the course was about – had a profound effect on my life in the sense that he persuaded me to think that an individual could make a difference in the world of social change. The Christian/Political Activist commune we formed in the 1960s created a slogan: “think your way into new ways of acting; act your way into new ways of thinking.” This dialectic of thought and action, with the implication that individual human beings thinking and acting in accordance with others in fact do make a difference, has stayed with me all my life. What we put into action in those magic sixties did in fact result in profound social change, the retrogressive period that followed notwithstanding. I intend to take to the grave with me the notion that I, and any other human being, so willing, can make a contribution to social change and the betterment of the world our children’s children will inherit.)
Playas, Ecuador, January 27, 2001
I awoke this morning as usual to the sounds of my radio alarm. But, how strange, my favourite classical station is playing Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin’.” This has never happened before. Have they changed their format? Then I notice this eerily familiar smell. It is incense mixed with the pungent aroma of that outlawed though mind-elevating herb. Still groggy from sleep, I don’t actually realize that something really odd is happening until I get up to wash my face and look into the bathroom mirror. My hair, which in this tropical climate I like to keep coolingly close to the scalp, has grown to shoulder length! And my sideburns have thickened considerably. I look down only to be further shocked by the fact that I am clad in bell-bottomed pajamas (with a tie-dyed paisley design!). This is all too bizarre, I say to myself, and I quickly dress and rush out to buy the morning paper, Guayaquil’s El Universo, the headline of which reads (in English!), “Despite Heavy Initial Losses Westmoreland Predicts Early Victory.”
It was only when I get home and think to look at the calendar on the wall and realize what day it is that I know I am not caught in some sort of Kafkaesque metamorphosis. It is January 27, my birthday. Being that I was born in 1941, today, January 27, 2001, for me at least, the sixties have begun again.
Inspired by this amazing experience, I began to meditate. When (in 1994) I was deciding whether or not to “spend a year or two” in Ecuador, I had consulted with my immediate family — parents, brother and children — and my mother had said to me that she believed in “doing your own thing.” “Mother,” I replied, “you sound like a Hippie.” Without missing a beat she countered, “I AM a Hippie.” It was only then that I realized that hipness could be genetic.
I hereupon wrote this dog-eared doggerel in celebration of …
THE SIXTIES: THE SECOND TIME AROUND
(but not ungracious)
(but not bombastic)
(but not unctuous)
(but not outrageous)
loving, not warring
moving, not boring
keeping the faith and the hope
(but this time around without the dope)
(And I don’t trust anyone over 90)
Peace & Love,