Nearing 70 but still livin’ in the 60s

The 60s changed my life, or more correctly, the 60s changed my mind. I am a member of the “love generation”, that cohort of baby boomers who discovered that a sacred presence permeates all things, that words can never do it justice and that one of its manifestations is life.

We were not the first human beings to uncover this truth; before the rise of technology and the global dominance of Western Europe such awareness was widespread. The indigenous people of the world, now either exterminated or their cultures corrupted, knew their fate was tied to the land, sea and air and that a healthy Mother Earth provides refuge for all beings, two-footed, four-legged, winged and of all description. The rediscovery of such basic sanity by the 60’s love generation–expanded consciousness fueled by the mind-altering perceptions of psychedelics combined with the sight of our beautiful blue planet floating in space–was the impetus for the modern movements of ecology, human emancipation, artistic expression and holistic global awareness.

Not every baby boomer joined the expanded consciousness movement; those of us who had, it turns out, were naive. We thought it was a revolution, but it was not; the forces of materialism swamped everything. Technology became global, but fragmented communications into “social” media while reinforcing abstract illusions of identity; the fragmentation of society now mirrors the mind-numbing manifestations of consumerism’s appeal to individual desire. To those untouched by the expanded consciousness movement passing years have reinforced attachments to greed, force, militarism, nationalism, totalitarianism and nativist identity–now surging around the globe in a desperate effort to preserve materialist illusions.

Perhaps my confidence and that of members of the “love generation” in the power of basic sanity is misplaced. The levers of power have fallen into hands of cold-hearted, zealous materialists whose invocation of the “sacred” is purely cynical and religious fundamentalists with dark visions of a looming apocalypse; could there be a vision more materialistic than a better life after death?

I’m confident that in the long-term basic sanity will prevail, but the basic sanity I have in mind is the sanity of Mother Earth, not people. The earth is a patient mother; she knows that in the end we will all crawl back into her arms. It has always been this way for Earth’s children. Nothing can save us–not technology, consumerism, politics, our imagined gods, and certainly not materialism. We’ve never owned a thing, you see, not a molecule; All and Everything we are or have is borrowed and will be returned. This is the truth of basic sanity unblemished by belief.

Meanwhile, what’s going on is heartbreaking. A form of paranoid, mass-hysteria is spreading in a global pandemic, and never more alarmingly than right here in America. As materialist fear grows, so grows their desperation, which inevitably turns to scapegoating and the embrace of authoritarian power; the truth of basic sanity is gnawing away at their confidence in externalized forms of happiness and human society itself. Episodes of ethnic cleansing, dreams of turning human beings into biological forms of machine intelligence, manipulating genes and hopes for immortality itself speak to their desperation. The materialists’ true apocalypse is seeing through the veiled reality of materialism’s illusory nature.

We of the love generation may have been naive, but we were not wrong.

(Photo by Marc Riboud)

2 thoughts on “Nearing 70 but still livin’ in the 60s

  1. The 60’s were a time of great change and cannot simply be written off as idealistic… It was a journey , not a goal. It was Ram Das and consciousness expanding drugs like LSD and Tribal consciousness……. Much of that was simply part of the journey to the unfolding of a new story…. To write it off as naive but not wrong does not capture the essence of the wake up call. Many hippies may have gone on to be silicon valley millionaires and so forth but many became more connected to a deeper stream in life. More connected to nature, awareness, compassion and so forth. The American Buddhist movement is the direct result of the 60’s…. Yoga centers on every corner now is the direct result of the 60’s as well. I think life is like a river and it is good to keep a perspective that it flows and not solidify and given moment in time with words…. Observation of the process is a gift we received in the 60’s. That is not naive. That is awake.!!

    1. Point taken, Clyde. My use of the word “naive” was not meant to dismiss the impacts and effects of the 60s on those of us who were awakened to the deeper issues I identify. I used the word in a more general sense to indicate that “the dawning of the age of Aquarius”, etc. envisioned a deep and lasting social transformation born of expanded consciousness. A look at America’s congress and current political leadership in general shows the entrenched power of greedy self-interest and rampant materialism, now enveloping the entire world. Everyone did not “turn on, tune in and drop out” and those that did not continue to control the levers of power in the world. Just sayin. Thanks for the comment and thoughtfulness.

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