The 1960’s was referred to as the Dawn of the Age of Aquarius. It was supposed to be the beginning of “peace – love – understanding“.
Since that time however there seems to be a lot of stridency, anger, frustration & bitterness. Neither of these descriptions are universal, just a general observation. Anything expressed in this post refers to an overall attitude not specific ones which vary by community and individual.
So what happened along the way? Was the “hippie movement” all beads, beards, bongs and bell bottoms, or was there more to it? One of the Pied Pipers of the 60’s counter-culture was, Timothy Leary. He was a Harvard University psychology professor who conducted early experiments in the use of Psychedelic rather than Psychotropic drugs to enhance brain function. These original University sponsored experiments into hallucinogens later banished him from traditional academia. This didn’t stop him as be became more a personality for the lecture and counter-culture movement. He was famously connected to catch phrases such as, “turn on, tune in, drop out” (a phrase given to Leary by Marshall McLuhan); “set and setting”; and “think for yourself and question authority”.
Reaction to traditional authority through protest became a routine throughout college campuses and many large cities. The age of understanding and reason became one of cultural group identity rather than the more traditional societal or class distinction. It was more or less a swap of the old with a new twist. Over time people started to identify or align themselves with movements and the introduction of a more common phrase, activist. People became activists in things such as, environment, feminism, pro-choice, pro-life, race, education, etc. Over time we became more screamers and less dreamers When we weren’t marching around carrying signs we found the next best thing was to find a podium or platform from which we could raise our voice and shout our values.
Meanwhile even if the college campus had these everyday activities, there still was the process of education, moving forward in life, aging boomers and the protest became less of a routine while families were started, financial burdens born and the growth of technology exploded.
This is a time where we have seen an immersion into using technology to advance business, commerce, communication, government, social interaction. All the while we still haven’t advanced the individual as rapidly. We cater to the wants and desires of a clamoring crowd without the idea of why or how this will really benefit rather than control or become the electronic equivalent of the sign carrying activist of old.
Using social media as it were may allow us to stay connected but what’s the value in the connection if we’re displaying the equivalent of using placards and shouting our point of view? Before electronics a speaker might step on to a top of a box and hold a large megaphone in front of their mouth loudly shouting out a speech or point of view. In some ways we are still like those people holding signs and shouting loudly proclaiming, freedom – justice or do your own thing…
Here’s a representative example of the current problems we face in communicating our ideas. It’s highly unproductive to constantly blame individuals, groups or political parties for all the perceived problems of the day. What definitely creates tension and provides no solution are placards or messages such as this one. –> –> –>
Looking at these two presidents we see there’s an accusation for one of these two men, while the other is defended. Not only is the message contained misleading, it doesn’t do anything to resolve problems. The man on the left is not only out of office, he died. The man on the right is the current sitting president and of these two men is the only one that has the capacity to enact change. Although it might be historically interesting to compare presidents, the realization that only the current President is the one that can work toward solutions. Fixing the problem should be a higher priority than fixing blame.
Let’s look at a chart which shows what has occurred over the past decades regarding the problem of federal spending. Take a few minutes and watch the video below, which describes the problem along with a proposed solution.
Based on this chart and a video produced by the Comptroller General (1998-2008) demonstrates a severe rise in debt. Our national treasury through taxation doesn’t come close to paying the bills. As also identified in this video, it isn’t a one party problem. Those who are informed voters understand that federal budgets can be proposed by Presidents but are created and passed by Congress. So even if a sitting President wants to alter spending he or she must convince Congress to reduce national spending as well as raise taxes where possible.
This is often an unproductive and frustrating activity when I discuss a problem as fundamental as rising indebtedness. Debate is often due to alignment of political and societal ideologies, many people are unable or unwilling to realize this problem exists and that it has become very serious. This is in some ways like an alcoholic refusing to recognize they have a drinking problem. Change can’t occur without first agreeing there is a problem in combination with a willingness to alter behavior to create positive change.
I doubt this post will create peace, love & tranquility however, I would like to suggest we tone down our rhetoric and our blame and focus on solutions before our delays and haggling catch up with us in the most dire of consequences.