Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nothing attractive about "mellow"

Have you ever been mellow?
Olivia Newton John sang a song in the 1970s that drove me a little batty.

The lyrics were something like, "Have you ever been mellow?    Have you ever let someone else be strong?"

The words bug me because, no; I can't say I ever have.  Been "mellow," I mean. 

We made a difference

There came a time in the 1970s when the quest for "mellow"was endemic.  The previous decade left us exhausted.  We had tried for a decade to change everything about our world;  our families, our love-relationships, our racial relations. We wanted a world with clean air and water, trees and wildlife.

And we made a difference.  Because of our protest, more women moved into the work force.  Because our brothers and friends burned their draft cards, the war in Vietnam was shortened and the draft eradicated.  Because we dared to instigate, Jim Crow laws dissolved into history.

His administration hated dissent.
But we did these things at great personal sacrifice.  The hard work left us weak, vulnerable and disillusioned.

Our president called us names

Our fatigue made perfect sense. Those were hostile, angry times.

The cruel war was raging.  At home, our  president called us "effete" for standing up for our liberties, "arrogant" for protesting the war and "elite" for pushing for investigation of his administration.  His administration hated dissent.

Those were violent, frightening times.  While the anti-war demonstrations across the nation grew in number and intensity, military and police action against us became more and more aggressive.

On May 4, 1970, four Kent State students were killed; shot by the National Guard while protesting the war in Vietnam. 

The violence was part of everything
We were never, never allowed to look away from the violence.

Every day broadcast news brought vivid, ugly images into our living rooms.  Night after night we sat together and watched images of our young men fight the first war our nation ever lost.

We watched our boyfriends, brothers and dads kill and die.

And the bodies.  The media allowed us to see the corpses of our brothers, boyfriends, friends and fathers returned to us in body bags, day after day after day.

Evening newscasters didn't joke with each other in those days; no one laughed at the events of our world.  These were the days of real media, real news.  These were the days before we expected our journalists to entertain.

Innocence lost

We were the Sunday school generation of the 1950s.  Every day of our elementary school career, we rose together in unity, placed our tiny hands over our hearts and pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

And they lied to us.  All of them.  Our teachers, our politicians, our parents.  Hard to imagine today, but being lied to was a shocking thing in the 1970s.

It hurt us.

More than anything else, however, it made us want to do better than had been done to us. We felt like we were part of something leading to a new world - a new creation.  The dawning of a new age.

In order to build it, however, we were going have to stay the course - fight the good fight.

But my generation was tired.

Olivia wanted us to be as "mellow" as possible.
"Mellow" became a quest
And so, when Olivia asked if we had ever thought about being "mellow," many of us answered, "damn straight."

Not me.  I didn't have the privilege of "mellow."  My father was dead; my mother and I were alone.  She needed me sober, straight and sane.  I was not about to let her down by using drugs.

But I know many individuals who did everything they could to be as mellow as possible.  

Pot, cocaine, heroin and LSD did the trick.  Instant mellow.  Memory loss.

I had friends who lived on drugs.  They pressured me - sure they did.

"Open your mind," one friend said. "Turn off, turn in, turn your mind around."

I assured him that there were still those among us who all ready had an open mind.  And the last thing my mother needed was a stoned daughter.

Take a baby boomer to lunch this week.  

You don't have to be an old hippie to feel the outrage over the way our media is working to sell us on new and better ways to make the rich wealthier.

If you feel it, you're not alone.  Trust me.  Many Baby Boomers (like me) are on to what's happening today.  And we don't like it.

If you're walking through the street sometime and you encounter a Boomer, think for a moment of all we did and the work we left undone.

Don't assume we're "mellow." Many of us are still mad as hell.

Ask questions.  We're always happy to tell our stories.

All we are saying is give peace a chance. 

1 comment:

  1. This is exactly how I feel every time someone calls me "Miss Debra". I'll keep the Ms., thank you very much, I worked for it and earned it the hard way.


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