I was twelve years old in the summer of 1960, as my father
whispered to his closest friend at the kitchen table
in our hot cement-block farmhouse.
“Hymen, it looks like the people might vote for change
“I’m not sure Lou. But I think Lenin said something
like ‘give me three workers and we’ll make a revolution’.”
“Yeah, but right now, the people are on the move...
they aren’t waiting for us,” Lou answered.
In our family, the 1950s was a time of economic desperation,
caused directly by the witch-hunts against us personally, and
against communists, labor and left-wing activists of all kinds,
all over the country.
But 1950s America was also the Korean War, economic stagnation
and poverty, segregation, lynching of African-Americans,
the suppression of women, the disenfranchisement of black people
and young people...a political system so corrupted by the thugs
of big money machines, racism, and fear, that anything close to
thoughtfulness was seen as almost radical.
This was the context in which JFK was elected 35th President
of the United States.
And of course that was only the opening of the decade and the
beginning of rising expectations...an uncharted course of turmoil
and transformation lie ahead...a cultural-generational-human rights
revolution bringing millions into the streets with marches, boycotts,
sit-ins, teach-ins, draft resistance in the face of a war that
extinguished the lives of millions...Vietnamese, Cambodians, Americans.
Are we a better, more conscious people because of all this?
You’ll have to answer that question yourself.
Maybe there are isolated windows in time when symbol is as important
as substance. When a society has proclaimed moral abandonment as
its mantra for decades, the not-so-simple act of awakening and
unleashing our imaginations can be a revolutionary message in itself.
--- e b bortz
(published in The New People, February 2008)
(published in khubz, Spring 2008)