Check the kool-aid before you drink
Freedom is an interesting word and can be used in different ways. I was listening to a song the other day on the radio and to paraphrase its content, this is what it said: “We can make love to whomever we want, do whatever we want, for it is our bodies and no one can tell us what to do”. It was of course true, but the song left a lot out, that being that there are often unforeseen consequences that can lead to a great deal of suffering for those involved. I guess you could say, even death for some of the more unlucky ones. Being young has its benefits, but there are also a lot of casualties that are often forgotten, except for some sort of human interest piece that will come out from time to time, making people feel bad about how the young are manipulated by the press and the economy without any regard for their actual well being and then forgotten.
I am a 60’s child and it is often celebrated for the revolution that it started. What is often forgotten is the human wreckage that was left along the way. Many young people lost, more than in the Viet Nam war, yet ‘drugs, sex and rock and roll’ to this day are celebrated as something good….apart from the growing 12 step movement that is. True there was some good music, much of which I still like to listen to, but the affect it had on many, and its philosophy was devastating. The contents of the kool-aid that is consumed should be checked carefully. In the end, much of the 60’s was created by the press and lots of money was made in the deal. Money made by the older generation; those who owned the music business, as well as those who dictated style to the impressionable young, all became very rich.
It is amazing how many times when I was a teen ager, I was told by some reporter, or author of some book, what it was I wanted, thought or desired, even if they were twenty or more years older than me. Well, teenagers are joiners among their own age demographic and will say “hell yeah that is what I want”. Lots of money made, and a lot of people also lost everything. That includes some very talented people. When Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix died within weeks of each other of drug overdoses and choking on their own vomit, I remember telling a friend that this is a message for us, but I doubt many will listen. The king and queen of rock and roll showed us where it all leads. I believe it was a great loss to lose such talented people.
Everything we do has a consequence, some of which may take years to come to fruition. There are many ways to undermine life, some more acceptable than others. To work oneself to death for instance is acceptable in a culture where wealth and prestige are given high marks. The death of ones marriage and the aftermath that has on the children is seen as an acceptable loss and even joked about in our movies and literature.
To commit slow suicide say by smoking, or drinking, or over-eating is less acceptable, but so common that it is acknowledged as a normal, if an unfortunate part of life. The crazy way people drive is also so widespread that it is accepted as normal and that people will take risk everyday while on the road that are potentially fatal, as if our cars are made of foam and a collision is not really something to worry about. On one of my more pessimistic days, I really wonder what is the matter with us, why can’t an intelligent species such as we actually are, why is it so hard to in point of fact act like it, instead of like a 14 year old teenagers out of control. A good thing for a teenager, a necessary part of growing up, but for a culture to be like that, well the word ‘sad’ does not even begin to express the feeling that evokes.
I have an atheist friend who is very much into social awareness and helping the poor and disadvantaged. One day he quoted me this: “Man is like a cancer destroying the earth”. He said this with sorrow and I told him I did not agree. “There is also a great deal of good out there, love, compassion and empathy showed to others. People raising their families, young people who don’t drink the cultural kool-aid and actually do think for themselves. Good does not get our attention, it is too life affirming, it is the underside that seems to get the attention”. “Yeah” he responded, “But in the end chaos always wins and our histories are littered with the ruins of dead cultures, it will happen to us as well”.
Well we shall see I guess, history is merciless in its judgments, if there will be anyone to record, or if we will even have the ability to write down what happened is yet to be seen. It is easy to forget that evolution, be it of a species or of culture is not a guarantee of advancement; it could easily go the other way. I think it is funny how heedless we can be at times on the directions we as a culture choose to go, for the easiest road seems to lead to a cliff that is very easy to fall over. When personal autonomy becomes the end all of life, then things really do fall apart.