Flower Child

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My original concept for this self-portrait was more of a hippy-dippy-let-your-inner-child-free-to-romp thing. Then this last week happened. More young black men gunned down by police for no apparent reason, police officers falling victim to sniper fire in Dallas, the ongoing BLM protests amid hyperbolic and untrue rhetoric about their “violent” motives, the over-aggressive police reaction to protesters across the country. And I haven’t even touched on other news. With all this going on, I wasn’t even sure if I had a voice anymore or, if I did, what I wanted to say. Then last night I was thinking about an article I’d read that compared what is happening in our country today to what was happening in 1968. I decided to go ahead and do this self-portrait with less of a staged costume effect and with a different focus in the narrative.

I was 14 in 1968 and graduated high school in 1972. I came of age in a time when the Vietnam war was still going on, when women’s liberation was in bloom and women were burning their bras, when the Civil Rights movement was strong and vocal, when boys were afraid of being drafted and when many of the young men I later went to college with were already military veterans. I remember the race riots of 1968 and the violence at the Democratic National Convention that same year. I remember the Kent State shootings in 1970. I remember protest music and youthful passion for a better world. I remember Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”. For those in my generation, these are not things we learned in a history book but things we lived through. It was a time of great anger but also a time of great hope.

I look around me today and I see many of the same battles still being fought. Systemic racism and white privilege are still holding people down. Women are still fighting for an equal place in society. The LGBTQ community is more out of the closet and in the open but we still have more battles to fight before we achieve parity. We are still fighting drawn out, seemingly pointless wars that do more harm to innocent people than anything else. And damnation, we’re still fighting to keep control of basic resources like food and water which should be available to everyone without question. Too many people are still hungry. Too many still homeless. Too many still living in poverty. The planet is falling apart.

So what happened? What happened to those major social changes we were determined to make back in the late ’60s and early ’70s? I don’t have any certain answers but it occurred to me last night that perhaps part of the answer lies in a name: flower children. Perhaps by allowing ourselves to be characterized as children, on some level we bought into the notion that idealism and dreams of peace and harmony are childish things. I’m not at all a bible reader but even I know this passage from Corinthians: When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. Did my generation put aside those so-called childish goals and instead focus on what we came to perceive as the grown-up stuff, pragmatism in the face of injustice and acquisition in place of community? I think that many of us did. And in doing so, we’ve allowed problems that should have been solved long ago to persist, indeed to fester.

I don’t have any answers for what is happening now either except to know that things must change, change substantially, if we are to go forward and thrive as a global community of humans. So I’ll leave you with one of my favorite music videos from Playing for Change:  “Love is All”. Perhaps it’s time to start listening to the children, the children around us and the children within us. Perhaps it is time once again to become idealists who believe in peace and harmony after all.

 

 

27 thoughts on “Flower Child

  1. Powerful words and thoughts young lady … I went into the military in 65′ and it was a time of upheaval and chaos on many levels, especially for someone who was born with a conscious and social awareness. Tough times that haven’t gotten any easier. It seems we are destined to repeat old mistakes over and over again … paying for our folly with our collective treasure and lives of so many of our young … Your words ring true … but it all is a sad commentary we have lived before.
    g

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  2. You took me the words of mouth and my mind, I could not say it better, what happens after all these years of Dreams and Wishes for a better World ! So many fight and died for that propose … A Better World For All !
    Something lost with the wind of times or perhaps World stopped believing in their poets … great feeling and words my friend !
    Fantastic photography with that positive dreaming smile that make us believe that it is still possible ! : )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, my friend! Some days I do find it hard to be positive about the future. But I do believe we still have a chance to unite across the globe and work together to create a better world for all of us. I hope so anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I ask myself the same questions.
    Our Congress functions like an alcoholic family.

    In fact, the people of the nation behave like the children of alcoholic parents with the democrats and republicans as brothers pathologically divided between parents.

    The people are being divided against each other and should actual street fighting begin the ruling class will be well protected.

    We must ask ourselves why the media response to this past weeks violence is to broadcast the most inflammatory remarks possible.

    Why does Fox news want it’s demographic to hate us?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry. Posted before I was finished. What we need to ask ourselves is the extent to which we are or have been complicit in allowing this to happen, mostly through complacency and silence.

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      2. Yes, I agree. But Fox, at least, appears to be losing audience — partly due to the age group to which it most appeals and partly to its insistence on denigrating the growing diversity of our population. And ideologues like Rush Limbaugh are no longer taken seriously by many. So I have hope that we’re seeing the end of much of the divisiveness and will turn back to a more objective kind of journalism.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ve been tracking Fox news and other right wing outlets for the past six weeks because to see what pops up as headlines.

        Every headline published by Fox is a personal opinion or outright lie. The response of Fox News to the shootings in Dallas was to brand BlackLivesMatters as a ‘hate group.

        What’s really interesting is that the day they spent hyperventilating over the injustice of the FBI decision regarding Hillary Clinton’s email was also the day that the UK published its findings regarding the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

        Fox didn’t report a word of it.

        The primary function of right wing media appears to be the fomenting of another American Civil War.

        How does the 1% benefit from the domestic chaos open warfare would create?

        I can think of a million ways….given that the 1% is already globalized and does not live in the misery it creates.

        When we’re at each others throats we don’t function as a democracy because we’re not focused on the disintegration of our standard of living.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I agree completely. The goal of Fox News and the 1% is to foment divisiveness. Keeping us divided keeps us distracted from the real issues. And Fox News is a cesspool. I used to watch periodically to keep up with their propaganda machine but I can’t stand it anymore. Makes me want to throw something at the TV.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. And very true. We didn’t really take ourselves seriously. As I was writing this I was also reminded of Joan Didion’s essay about the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco, “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”. She observed much the same thing at the time. It’s too bad because we had a real opportunity to effect change, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL at Hippy-Dippy term. You know, the news isn’t in the business to tell the whole story nor give an audience to what is going right, it is there to make money. This country is the one where many voices are heard from freedom of speech, freedom of the press. This country is the safeguard for immigrants everyday. This country is one were we value the arts, humanitarian causes, literary voices over far and wide landscapes. The NOT fighting for our values and for the changes of what doesn’t work would be the greatest problem. I see unity and passion from all sides to stand up and voice what deeply matters 🙂

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      2. Oh, I agree. We are that country underneath all the crap that is thrown at us each day. We all need to come together and start speaking out against the injustices we see. Just as we need to speak up in support of positive changes. I still think we can do that. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. “So what happened? What happened to those major social changes we were determined to make back in the late ’60s and early ’70s?”

    A lot happened. They killed our heroes. First JFK, then Reverend King, then RFK. They lied to us and then left town waving from a Marine helicopter with a presidential pardon from a non-elected president. They lied to us more, and excused it by “not remembering” which was later justified with Alzheimers. They lied to us and asked us to consider what the “definition of ‘is’ is.” They are lyimg to us still, and yet we have no way to call them to account for their lies because they have rigged to political system so the liars win no matter what.

    I graduated H.S. in 1971, so lived through the same experiences as did you. I was watching the California Primaries LIVE on TV when RFK was killed. I joined the Army before the end of Viet Nam and served for 7 years. I had the ideals, and hoped for the world that Roddenberry told us the Earth would become. Then we found out that world would come to be after a World War III.

    Even though there have been disappointments along the way the world, America, is not the same today as it was in 1968.

    We have made progress. Some things have gotten better. Overall, America has improved for all of us in some ways. Is it the perfect country we wished it would become? No. But nothing changes overnight. It comes slowly with much difficulty and great sacrifice.

    America still has a long way to go, but America has come a long way from where it was.

    America does not need to be made great again, it has always been great, and still is a great country.

    God Bless America.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that we have come a long way in some respects but would still argue that we have shoved some major problems off to the side without really addressing the underlying causes. But this country still has a lot of strengths as you say. We can get to that better place.

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