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Overrated? Underrated?

March 2024
1min read


I read the piece about the sixties being the most overrated decade with a certain feeling of déjà vu. My generation came of age in the late sixties. We were the first to be thoroughly analyzed by sociologists in the day-to-day press. Nothing has changed about that, although many other things have changed radically. We don’t speak up for ourselves too often, both because we can’t and because we won’t. We lack the requisite defensiveness and so we won’t, and, anyway, by now we’re used to being talked about, dissected, and criticized. The reason we can’t is that we don’t yet know how it ends. I like to think that those of us at Woodstock thirty years ago saw a glimpse of the future in terms of human evolution, which is painstakingly slow. We saw a future when people could live in harmony, not because they all had agreed on one religion, one country, and one way of life, but out of simple respect and tolerance for other human beings. We know it can be done, that it’s just as natural as the evil that men do. This vision is so out of sync with the way the world is going that I can only conclude that we had a taste of a time that may not come for another millennium. The “greatest generation” has often let us know that we don’t measure up. They measured up to their time. But we saw a time that has not yet come. Perhaps our full measure will not be appreciated for many more generations. To discount the late sixties as separate from the spirit of the early sixties, as Bruce McCaIl did, is nonsense. There is a huge connection between the two. In the early sixties there was hope for change, because change was needed. In the late sixties change occurred, and it was rough and unsettling and even painful. In a way it’s the difference between conceiving a child and childbirth.

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