While the young who have taken up the mantle to fight for positive change, and are hungry to learn, an older generation of fighters are retreating from the fray, muttering comments verging on defeatism.
To be sure. people of my generation can feel pretty down when they look around at the stuff that is going on. Possibly they can remember a time when at least you could feel some reform was possible. It might be because they were younger and more excited about the future. It was the 1970s. Some of it was good, some of it was not so good. There was a sense of hope though, and a feeling that things were changing for the better.
When you are young and full of piss and vinegar, as I was then, it is sometimes easy to forget the struggle that went on before hand, in your parents and in their parents time. The fight for a living wage, the forming of unions, hunger, the experience of war (on our own soil), and such like.
It’s understandable (in retrospect of course) at the time, how older people got upset, by all that liberation – Because it was those of the older generation who probably paid for it, through their commitment and sacrifice.
I remember talking with my peers at the time, of how, “It would be good to know now, what you would know, when you were 50”. “How cool would that be” But it never works out that way. Things change, people change – that is I suppose, what makes life so infinitely interesting. However there’s no reason to give up wondering, hoping, or dreaming, just because you get to 50. I also don’t remember much of what I learned in school, but it’s what you learn outside of school that’s important. I especially do remember what I learned off the older guys in Notting Hill Gate, in the early 70s, when I started forming political opinions. I am grateful for their patients and for the knowledge they shared.
I think it was Michael Albert of z magazine, who said, If someone asked, what they imagined, organisers and radicals of the past would think, Joe Hill, and people like that, if they magically re-appeared, amid the political situation we are in today. They would probably say, he suggests. “The conditions and situation, is an organisers dream”.
Never before has so many vehicles for the spreading of information been available, to communicate ideas and never has the blatancy of the lies being fed to us by government, administrators, been so transparent – or our liberty to contest such lies, been so harshly threatened.
We have a technological and information, infrastructure possibility, to change things, and reasons worthy of the effort. Because, I don’t see to many people sitting at ease and being at all happy about what’s going on around us.
Even through the reactionary trivia, of programs such as Question Time, on the BBC, a current of dissent is becoming audible. In phone-ins, on topics concerning ID cards and amid a collection of other such brutal legislative ideas. There is an awakening even in the most politically dormant and unexpected sections of the population.
It is evident when people step out of their front door, What has happened to the community. Something is amiss, something alien has taken over. Change is needed, how and what form that change takes is the issue. Folk will either recede further into television, or perhaps look for solace in the growing number of quasi religious institutions now being imported from the states, or try to block out the world by credit card.
Or maybe it’s time for a change, led this time by us, and especially for people of my generation to become engaged in their community again, like they used to. Maybe to bring back some of that old fashioned community, we seem so keen to remember.
We need to join the struggle to win the hearts and minds of our young, in order to reconnect them with their history, amid the constant, facile abstract diversions which are not “cool” really, but are part of a corporate agenda to separate the young from their money and to create a new generation of good consumers.
It is important that we do not become despondent towards our responsibilities of educating our kids in the traditions and experiences that could help in keeping our communities active. The young are being robbed of this history, and it is a history that my generating has a responsibility to convey. Because there is such a thing as society and we should all play a part in it .
We are at the threshold of great change, because the system that is trying constantly, to shape the way we ultimately think, is running out of ideas. Predatory capitalism can only end up feeding on itself, it has nowhere else to go. Social reform is an imperative not an alternative, if the signs are anything to go by, in the global order, led mainly by the robber barons of faceless corporations, who survive only by our lapsed interest in our own affairs.
I look at and listen to some of my contemporaries, even people I have learned from and respect for their commitment to keeping alive the tradition of always bucking the system. Many of them, look around them now and think “How did we arrive here” where did this come from – We arrived here because, basically we stopped attending to the business of democracy, when we started attending to the business of the mortgage.
What happened was technological advancement that was paid for and should served our communities needs, is instead commandeered and used mainly to advance social fragmentation.
We arrived here because we became one generation thinkers – “Its up to them now, I’ve done my bit.” Fundamentally we rendered our social history as a memory of the past, a nostalgia, rather than a guide to our future. And this is the bridge that has to be rebuilt especially towards the disenfranchised and the young.
It is now that the experience of the people of my generation is needed, that is those of us who are not absorbed in the cynical atrophy of the status quo. It is time to share experience with the generations who are trying to learn. There is so much the older generation have to offer in supporting the young folk, who will be tomorrows older generation. It is not time to retire, but to reenergise the history of our achievements and share them with young people, as the older generation, did with us.
It is difficult to think of these things in the day to day bustle of earning a living, finding a job, looking after kids and everything else that keeps the mind fully occupied. But that’s just what is expected of us in a world that is being persistently geared to the chaos of, we are, what we buy. Period.
No one should expect things to change over night. But if we each do, even a little bit and add something to the mix, it is surprising what can happen. And the time to think about this is not when we are tired and jaded from work, but when we are out for a walk or relaxing over christmas. When the mind is clear, and we have an hour to think, we could chose to do something in the new year, that is different to our usual routine. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering, just a thing that can be easily achieved. Something to get the year off to a positive start.
Keep in mind, something simple, attempted, is %100 up on something ignored. Merry Xmas. and a Happy New Year. Lets make 2006 a year for people and some old fashioned community.