In 1966 I entered university at the age of 18. I have such clear memories of feeling close to my friends in those days, but there was a real and exciting feeling of closeness with ‘the movement’. We were going to affect change…serious social change…’ I was not involved in any serious way…I was too busy also trying to figure my life out then. Navigating the world of late adolescence. Girls, drugs,music, bell bottoms, long hair (with requisite headband). As well as feeling lost, isolated and wary of the future…normal stuff. BUT…there was a very strong scent of optimism in the air. We felt we were a part of positive change. Whether it was civil rights, anti-war demonstrations, etc, it was a feeling that we needed to love each other more, to be more accepting of our differences. Remember?
I am so impressed by the students in the US who are taking a stand and demanding change in particular with respect to gun regulations. The voices of youth are powerful and always will be (new voters after all) In the 60s, I really feel that whatever small changes were eventually brought about by our ‘movement’ were caused by optimism, courage, determination and a certain nearly sublime stubbornness. The 16-25 year olds of 2018 present hope for positive change. My post is offered as strong support for the work and the courage of the young people who have stepped up to the plate. Hopefully, more and more will join. And I’m not just talking about gun laws. The rise of populism world-wide is so far away from what was being dreamed of back in our day. My hope is that young people don’t buy into it., (populism, negative nationalism) And that they help rediscover a path where lying, bigotry, and putting one’s own interests above all else is not tolerated.
One last word on this…I’m not speaking here to the youth of any one country, although foremost in my mind is my own country. In Canada, and particularly in Ontario where I live, there is a chance that populism is gaining ground. The conservatives have elected a Trump mini-me in Doug Ford as their new leader and polls have indicated this unqualified, inarticulate fool will become our next premier. I hope that young Ontarians as well as young people everywhere find the will for positive change and to find a sense of unity and optimism like the sense we old farts had back in the day. And to push back against the corruption, greed, and dishonesty that is so prevalent. Ironic that so many of those who had such idealistic, determined views in 1968, may be the ones most responsible for our present day gloom.