Off the rails, as a nation we have taken our hand off the brake and are watching with morbid fascination as society runs headlong into complete collapse. I do not say this lightly, in fact I have spent a great deal of time considering the ramifications of making this statement at all. Nevertheless, I think if someone doesn’t speak up than how are we to begin to have discussions that perhaps stop the runaway train before it hits the damaged trestle and falls straight down into the abyss.
My generation was supposed to change the world. We marched with Dr. King for Civil Rights, many stood up for change even against generations of tradition within their own families. We cheered when SCOTUS found in favor of the Lovings and put an end to the miscegenation laws. We stood up and protested the Vietnam War and the meaningless deaths of our friends and family for corporate greed, yes we knew even then why war this war was being fought.
We believed in giving back and reaching out, we followed a President who believed in the same things, from this, the Peace Corp was created and we filled its ranks. My generation was supposed to change the world. We decried violence, yet saw our heroes gunned down: John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X. We recognized the threats to our ecology by our own actions and from this were born both the Sierra Club and Environmental Movement. We denounced greed and from this, the first voice for Consumer Protection rose up in Ralph Nader.
Finally our generation recognized the disparity in treatment of women in our society, from this Women’s Liberation was born in part helped by the introduction of the Birth Control pill and the agreement of the Supreme Court that women had the legal right to control their reproductive health.
Yet here we are today, forty-three years after the end of the sixties the decade of great upheaval and dramatic social change and we are off the rails, heading for the abyss and I don’t believe we are talking about the real problems facing us.
I was twelve years old in 1969. I am grateful to those who came before me
and fought for the rights and privileges we
enjoy today. Those who faced jail, violence
and social condemnation so I could marry
whom I chose, pursue the career I chose,
attend the school I chose and manage my
reproductive choices and health.
I am grateful for my voice! For the voice I raised in protest of wrongs since I was old enough to understand it could be raised, I have raised it. Now though it seems my voice, all of our voices are silenced by the clatter of a much louder and insidious blast of sound, the counting of coins. We are convinced now our value is only counted by the zero’s behind the dollar signs or diminished by their lack.
What has happened? It isn’t any one thing, instead it must be a concoction of many parts that have come together to form a toxic brew we are willingly imbibing.
Why are we so willing to sit back in silence? So willing to hand over privileges and rights to those who have no dog in the fight beyond their own self-glorification and this they have certainly done nothing to earn. Why are we not standing on the steps of Congress and the White House, flooding the streets in protest and demanding our voices be heard above the braying of the obnoxious and hate filled rhetoric of the ideologues streaming through every media outlet today.
I ask this question, yet I am afraid of the answer. I am afraid because the answer might be we view political grandstanding as simply another form of entertainment. We enjoy the show and have forgotten in our lethargy it is not entertainment; it is in fact our future, it is in fact the hand on the brake. The posturing of all those who would be king, is more than entertainment it is the fuel that will break us as a nation, turning friends into enemies and dividing families. The bombastic language combined with ideologies that barely mask the intent to divide us is frightening more because of what it says about our acceptance of open hostility against those unable to defend themselves.
Our attention is misdirected and we allow it! We seem content to watch as our options are stripped from us, our opportunities vanish and our voices are silenced under the weight of our exhaustion and our debt. To speak up and speak out will soon mean to be Apostate, perhaps there will be a stake awaiting me in the village square. Nevertheless, I simply cannot sit silent and motionless on a runaway train, can you?