In November of 1969 there was a peace march, and many of us decided to participate. We naively thought that we could make a difference. With our babies in tow and with friends beside us, we accompanied the great unknown masses of doctors and lawyers and teachers, people of all ages and ethnicities. We walked and sang and prayed for peace, and we imagined someone would hear us.
But, when we watched the evening news, we discovered that not one national network mentioned the more than 250,000 people peacefully standing before our Capitol in Washington D.C., asking that we bring our troops home. The only coverage for that day was of an alley skirmish that had nothing to do with those of us who walked with hearts burdened by hope.
Truthfully, we were not seen then, except in the extremes. The iconic photos of Woodstock defined us, just as the streets of Haight Ashbury became our collective home. My generation was the unshaven, the longhaired, the druggies, the seekers – and as such, we were irrelevant.
But, as much as we were not seen then, we are not seen now - with our grey hair and slower pace. Idealism once challenged, though, becomes a mighty force – especially with age. Experience has taught us to doubt and to question. We do not believe the words of those who brandish promises as easily as they point a finger, and we know that media creates its own truth.
Stephen Stills’ words are eerily as true today as they were five decades ago. I invite you to listen to the song, which begins: “There's something happening here; What it is ain't exactly clear; There's a man with a gun over there, Telling me I got to beware; There's battle lines being drawn, Nobody's right if everybody's wrong…”
Fifty years…and I wonder, has anything changed?