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McQUARRIE – Boomers – we didn’t defeat the man, we became the man

(Image: Taylor Simpson, Unsplash.com)

I AM OLD ENOUGH to have watched and been inspired by President Kennedy as he explained in a 1963 speech why desegregation of schools and universities in Alabama was necessary.  Several months later I was home studying for exams when he was assassinated.

I was 15 when I heard Martin Luther King Jr. describe the promise of the future in his “I have a dream” speech.  I was 19 when he was assassinated.

I listened to Bobby Kennedy speak of the hopes and dreams of America only to watch on TV as he too was assassinated.

I’m 71 years old now and given what I’ve seen and experienced, I never imagined a time like today, a time when a broken world would be handed a sliver of hope and a chance to shape a shared and new destiny.

My generation failed to grasp their sliver. In the ’60s we chanted, ‘make love not war’ but in the end, chose decades of war.

We marched for a world free of racism but did nothing when in July 1967, Detroit descended into the abyss. During those five days, 43 people were killed, 1,189 injured, and more than 2,000 buildings were destroyed.

We spoke of equality but kept reality out of our neighbourhoods and protected what we had by encouraging police forces to shift from serve and protect to being the city’s paramilitary force.

We failed to teach our children or inspire greatness and allowed divisiveness, ignorance, intolerance and hate to blossom in their place.

We were indentured to our bank, our mortgages and the pursuit of wealth and in the process forgot about the dreams of our youth.  We didn’t defeat the man, we became the man.

But now you have a chance to change what we didn’t and to change it forever.  The ugly and brutal underbelly of the world, with its grotesque abuses of power has been exposed and you and millions of others seem ready to change that for the better.

There are some who are counting on you to do exactly what we did.  They are smugly confident the economy and your own self-doubts ensure that you will follow in our footsteps and in the end change nothing.

Buy that bigger house, take on that all consuming mortgage, don’t go back to school, buy that big truck, take holidays you can’t afford without the help of an increased VISA limit.

The siren call of consumerism is how the modern citizen eunuch is created and controlled and we who were once the idealistic freedom loving hippies of the ’60s bought into it.

You can change that, though.  Everyone who is marching and shining a light on the violent ugliness of today’s inhumanity mustn’t stop the march towards a better world.  We did and you mustn’t as this is the one and only chance you get.

Trust me, I’ve been there, I failed and now it is your turn to correct what we didn’t.

You give me hope as I sense there is something different about you and the times. And my wish for you is that when you are my age, regrets have been replaced by a world that finally learned Black Lives do Matter.

Bill McQuarrie is a former magazine publisher, photojournalist and entrepreneur. Semi-retired and now living in Port McNeill, you can follow him on Instagram #mcriderbc or reach him at bill@northislandrising.com.

About Mel Rothenburger (7717 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on McQUARRIE – Boomers – we didn’t defeat the man, we became the man

  1. Jennie Stadnichuk // June 16, 2020 at 12:36 AM // Reply

    Such a perfect recall of history that moves from the hope for change that seemed to be coming so strong with the election of John F Kennedy and then crushed, then the several other assassinations as the Leaders of Hope were ripped away from us. The world shook in shock at all of this while we wondered if we (the individual person) had any power to “do something” — but what? Someone had to lead us and it seemed they were prematurely taken! –NOW, with Universal “Black Lives Matter” protests around the world — everyone is hopeful again as we watch protestors’ energy. BUT, so far have we heard of ANY CONCRETE PLANS OF ACTION? – Each Canadian Province has the ability as does Canada. What specifically will society see as an Action Plan? Let’s hear of it SOON please.

  2. Ian MacKenzie // June 14, 2020 at 11:24 AM // Reply

    Oh so well expressed and Oh so true! My life, too, has followed the same unfulfilled direction.

  3. Black lives do matter and everyone else’s too…but like everything else the market forces will make sure that nothing will change. We don’t need to look too far nor too wide because with one semi-paused look around our own locale we can see the frivolity, the pompousness, the arrogance and the “cult of the self” are ever so pervasive and soaking through. But hope is the last one to die….

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