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With the end of another decade and the storm of analysis and encapsulation that allows follows, I found it irresistible to offer up and summary of my own. But to sum up where we are now in Western Society, we first have to go back a good half century and connect the dots. Let’s start where the cracks first began to appear in the Rockwellian Life of the North American Dream.
The sixties were the downfall of the 20th century’s moral foundation, a poisonous and pernicious little decade that seemingly refuses to pass on into history. For all its good intentions and accomplishments, the sixties was a decade of contempt, blind defiance, weak-mindedness, and assassins. The concepts of tradition and respect were reduced to rubble; the notion of authority was demonized, and some of our most fundamental values were no longer valued at all. All this unfolded under the guise of social action and romanticized to no end. Such attitudes created a cancer that has since rapidly spread throughout Western Society and people are losing because of it. Society, if it hasn’t already, is losing its soul.
The pretentious nature of those who stand in defense of the sixties is also something I can hardly bear. They arrogantly lay claim to the odyssey of youth and experience, and the evolution of society and self, as if it were somehow their own. According to those from the sixties, no one ever did as much to cure the world of its ills; no one cried as many tears, or shed as many skins. Many baby boomers love to claim no one before or since has ever experienced anything like those from the sixties did. So many beat their chests about how the sixties reached some great peak, and rode the crest of a huge wave that broke when the seventies hit. All I can say to this is please, once and for all, just shut-up.
Many have grown tired of your incessant and egocentric ramblings. So much of what you claim to be your own, belongs to everyone. What you lived through was not the sixties, but the human experience. Your pomposity amazes me at times and is best captured by the ramblings of your feeble clown prince, who claimed that even into today’s world people are still living off the so called table scraps of the sixties.  Well, Mr. Dylan, just because your over-rated hump of a career has been feeding off the table scraps of the sixties for years, doesn’t mean the rest of us are. Besides, according to your own confessionals, you went through that adolescent decade in an incoherent, semi-conscious, nearly comatose state of mind. Does this sound like someone we should accept as having the clear-minded vision to offer a synopsis of anything at all?
In many ways, the sixties was like the 20th century’s very own teenager, as this child-like decade simply never wanted to listen to anyone, and thought it knew more than anybody else possibly could. It was naively defiant and unthinkingly rebelled against any and all forms of authority. It felt as though no one understood them, that no one ever experienced what they were going through, and a like a spoiled brat, complained about everything, all the while still wanting to live rent free in the basement. If an obsessive interest in one’s own level of importance that simultaneously devalues others is the definition of narcissism, then the sixties were a narcissistic decade. A child-like attitude sits at the core of such self-important behavior, and the reality is that many of the protests and demonstrations of the 1960s were not fueled by high-minded moral principles, but by an adolescent super-ego crossing its arms in huff and saying, “You’re not the boss of me. You can’t tell me what to do.”
The seventies followed and did not dine upon the scraps of the sixties, but instead began to clean up after them. Furthermore, after all the empty noise and defiant clatter of the decade before, the seventies began the painful process of dealing with the terms the sixties so unthinkingly set. Accordingly, any attempt society made to clean house and organize the clutter left behind was met with frustration, as the rooms were changed, the furniture was moved, and nothing quite fit anymore. The blithe and pedantic way the sixties approached the idea of change left the seventies in a perpetual state of confusion. As a result, the seventies always seemed to be a little off, a bit unconventional, and slightly out of sync.
The selfless and lost attitude of the seventies gave birth to the me generation of the eighties, as society slowly grew tired of worrying about every one else’s problems. The utility of one’s own endeavors became paramount and a hedonistic approach to life began to unfold. Shortly thereafter, the guilt that often follows such an approach to existence produced a repressive veil, as the me generation of the eighties gave way to the no generation of the nineties. The nineties were once again a gilded decade of excess and an age where the real problems of the world were ignored, while dot com companies were celebrated, cell phones became fifth limbs, and Mercedes felt it entirely necessary to market a sports utility vehicle. This particular time around, however, we at least felt bad about it. Our conscience in pain from the near unconscionable and hedonistic decade before, the nineties told us what we couldn’t do or say, as the frustratingly ridiculous concept of political correctness was born. Soon, a maddeningly impossible attempt to appease every possible individual concern became commonplace. Not long after, we were told, at every turn, what we couldn’t say, what we couldn’t do, and even what we couldn’t ask. If we weren’t so busy deciding that the physically disabled should be called the physically challenged or that North American Indians should be referred to as Aboriginals, we might’ve seen it coming – but we didn’t.
The autumn of 2001 then fell upon us all and the world was changed forever. This past decade needs time to absorb into our societal bloodstream before anyone can offer a truly effective summary, but generally speaking it was a tough stretch. On a global scale the past ten years have seen division and partisanship run deep, ethnocentricity, hatred and prejudice run high, and mistrust, paranoia and fear run wide. The world is more fragmented than it has been since WWII and all of this was topped off with the worst global recession since 1929. Now, more than ever in recent memeory, it seems the world needs to start over. Perhaps thats a good thing. Perhaps.
What will follow? No one knows, but it would be nice to break the pattern we’ve been caught in over the past 50 years or so. If we dont… who knows what the next ten years will bring.
From David Anthony Hohol…