Archive for December, 1969

Ancient History

December 31st, 1969

In 1969, I was just arriving at York University in Toronto from almost seven years spent in New Zealand, where I had just completed my first degree with honors. My views on the Vietnam War had, like many in our generation, changed to one of total opposition. It was clear to me that my native country was on the wrong side, and that things could only go badly, whether we were “winning” or “losing.”

At York I also participated in a student-led restructuring of the graduate program, introducing a self-directed, multidisciplinary option. I studied sociology, philosophy, history, science, popular culture; all to try to understand how we got here and where we were headed. A lot of time we were involved in intense debates about politics, sex, drugs, music, spitiruality, the New Age, the nature of our transformation.

In 1971, having completed all but the dissertation for my Ph.D., I accepted a position with the Opportunities for Youth Program in Ottawa.

This now all seems like ancient history, a time before our great dissolution, a time of idealism, of analysis, of passion, and of possibility. In 1991 I moved back to the U.S., in search of yet another new life. I worked hard through the 90s, with some successes and some failures, but without a sense of great accomplishment. By 2000 it was clear to me that the new millennium was not the arrival of utopia, but I did not expect it to become so completely disastrous.

Since the events of September 2001 the political climate in the U.S. has become an increasingly dismal one. The overwhelming sense of human tragedy, worldwide sympathy, and a search for new meaning, has given way to increasing misgivings about the suppression of democracy at home, the misdirected and incompetent aggression abroad, and the self-fulfilling prophecy of a world at war with itself.