I watch the hatred and small mindedness of the Republican nominee in disbelief. Blocking all Muslims? Really? This candidate is the best the Republican party can come up with? And our legislators cannot pass much-needed gun controls, out of fear of losing funding for their next election?
I am suddenly drawn back to the time when we baby boomers were protesting the treatment of Negroes (positive word used at the time) in the South, or the Vietnamese War, or Dow chemicals and the use of Nepalm in that war, or even the military-industrial complex in general – it seemed to rule everything. Back when we opted out of business schools and studied art. Back when we said there’s a better way to live. No more war. Make love not war. The orange haired freak who I will not name is heir to these same possibilities. But he and his followers seem not to have listened. What happened?
In the eyes of many of us growing up in the fifties and sixties, our parents were not the greatest generation – Tom Brokaw hadn’t written his book yet. They had fought or sacrificed to save all for the boys at the front, true. And Hitler was a monster. Also true. I’m glad he was finally stopped. But why did no one stop him much earlier?
My parents believed in the just war. My generation believed no war was justified.
After WWII the men came home, tossed the women out of their jobs and took the jobs for themselves, and proceeded to turn into Mad Men. My generation looked at what we had inherited and said NO. No to war. And we didn’t want gender specific rules for how to behave or how to earn a living, or telling us who to love. With the pill, we women were free to experiment, just like the guys. And we all wanted to do something meaningful, something to make the world a better place. But then we got married and everyone fell into traditional roles like taking their assigned seats in a classroom. Men called watching their own children “babysitting.” Men our fathers’ ages did their best to impose the old rules, and largely succeeded.
But women fought back. Helped by new legislation, many women like me managed achievements undreamed of in the nineteen fifties. Some of us clung to our 60’s ideal notions longer than others. Gays stood up for their rights, and the LGBT rainbow flag became part of our consciousness.
Gradually, though, these efforts toward equal treatment got taken for granted. And now we have throw-back macho-loving wildcatters blaming anyone except the country’s incredible proliferation of guns for our endless mass shootings. And we have really scary fundamentalists dreaming up rules to limit women’s reproductive freedom and intimating that the gay people in that nightclub deserved what they got. At least 35 U.S. cities are reporting a startling rise in murders or other violent crimes this year, ending decades of declines in most cases, but the orange-haired candidate is either silent on it or blame it on immigrants. And he is supported by many.
When will people learn? They attack women’s rights. They say we can’t afford to help our teens get a better education or help poor children have better health, or do something meaningful about the plight of people with serious mental illness. They have proposed no way to get at the root causes of our young men’s fascination with violence. But there’s always enough money for another war. They allow billionaires to run roughshod over us all.
There is nothing wrong with earning a living, but there is something wrong when the short-term profit motive drives everything we do, when we lose charity and caring, when pursuit of the almighty buck gives a person license to try to wipe out the civil rights legislation and progress of the past fifty years, when desire for power and self-aggrandizement trumps humanity.
We’re better than this.
We can be so much better than this.