The Times: Are they a’changing?
When Bob Dylan penned his iconic “The Times They Are A Changing” in 1964, I was 11 or 12 years old. The changes that have taken place between that time and the present are many. I’ll highlight a few for you in this piece, but never fear, this won’t be an old guy’s lamentation for sweet days gone by. Please permit me just a few ruminations.
As a child, days at the beach included piling in the station wagon, the precursor to the mini-van which has evolved into the SUV, laying in a supply of quarters for the toll booths on the parkway and sitting in traffic seemingly for hours until finally arriving at children’s “Nirvana” the beach. I’d blow up my raft, orange colored with multiple sections and float around for hours. What’s missing from this picture? Sun block of course, unknown in those days, the early sixties. We were blessed with an ozone layer to protect us, instead of a layer of “goo”. I do not recall sunburn being a big problem. I even remember some people concocting a mixture of baby oil and iodine which they used to amplify the sun’s effect. Imagine hitting the beach today without sunblock?
Beach vacations were a summer treat. Normal summer days consisted of being sent on foot or by bike to the field, at least a mile from home, with a brown bag lunch, probably baloney and mayo on white and an apple. A can of soda, I preferred grape, washed it down. The admonishment to stay out of trouble and be home for dinner is in stark contrast to how a ten year old is supervised today.
It wasn’t all “peaches and cream” in those days by any means. We had a river in Ohio, the Cuyahoga, that used to catch fire on a regular basis in those days before the EPA existed.
There was the useless Vietnam war, waged to save the world from the spread of communism. “Better dead than red” was the slogan of the day and boys from our little town in New Jersey paid the price.
Anyone remember the “riots” in Watts?
Fast forward 50 or so years, what’s changed?
We have a lot more goods that we've been convinced we need. Around the clock connectivity keeps us abreast of the “breaking news”. Worldwide travel has become common as we fly off to see the glaciers before they melt away.
Let us not forget about Climate Change. In 1970 the first nation-wide celebration of “Earth Day” took place with an estimated 20 million people participating. On Earth day 2020, according to my unscientific poll, there were very few people celebrating. Climate change, income inequality and the pandemic however are a topics for another day.
Right now it’s all about protest*. Americans are in the streets protesting police brutality.
As it was in the sixties and seventies with the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations people have been out in force exercising their right to disagree with government and demand reform.
I had thought, as my kids were growing up that racism was on the decline and would be gone by the time my generation passed on. Sadly, in my opinion, it keep showing its ugly face systemically.
People of color in America have had the “deck” stacked against them for hundreds of years. It’s way passed time for change and reform.
We need to start reallocating resources that are used to incarcerate people for nonviolent offenses towards programs that actually help them.
We need to reform police practices to emphasize deescalation over confrontation.
We need our police to stop killing the people they swear to serve.
We need to start loving one another.
I hope and pray that, finally, the times they are a changing.
*I am talking peaceful protest. I abhor violence in any form.