stuck in the eighties

I was riveted while watching Freedom Riders on PBS this week about the Civil Rights movement in the sixties. As I watched the footage of the white segregationist pronouncing on “how the world should be”, I was overwhelmed with the sheer stun of how anyone anywhere could have ever thought such a thing. And then it occurred to me, in 50 years from now, when people watch footage (if indeed there will be such a thing) of us pronouncing on how our economy must grow and our taxes must be low before we can really try to restore our environment (like it has to be one or the other…), will they too think that we were certifiably insane? I’m afraid so. 

But then I kept thinking. Every decade represents something. The sixties was about civil rights and peace. The seventies was about women’s lib. Then we get to the decade when I was in university. The eighties. What did we overcome? Not a whole lot. We had overdone hair and awfully bright clothes. We did have great music, but every decade thinks that. Were we shallow and without purpose? Valley girls, Madonna, BMWs and preppies, the brat pack and MTV? Ah, come on (eileen). We were shallow and without purpose. Gnarly dude! (at least we gave you that – thanks Spicoli). 

Oh sure, we got perestroika and glasnost – but we just snuck those under the wire. I might have worn a  Solidarity button in university – but I really didn’t know why. It was a fashion statement. See, I told you we were shallow. 

In the nineties, after watching innocent people die of aids, we got real. There’s no place for anyone in any closet, ever. And to some extent, freedom of civil union has come from it (in many – but not enough – places). 

I think the first decade of the millenium was hijacked by 9-11 and any social movement was pre-empted by the war on terror. 

But 2011 brings us the Arab spring. Are they related? We’ll have to wait for 2020 to be sure, me thinks. 

Back to the eighties for a moment. I do have a vague recollection of something called the Green movement. I had a recyclable shopping bag from Loblaws and a GO GREEN t-shirt made of organic cotton. But for some reason, which is unknown to me, it stalled. And off we went into our BMW driving, pop music listening, valley girl talking decade. I think we got stuck. 

So why am I stuck on this now, three entire decades later? Because I’m going to my high school reunion in June. We won’t have any protests rallies to recall or any songs of freedom to sing. Ironically, we benefitted so much from the two decades that preceded our own call to action. We had more freedom and more choice. Which we used, for the most part, to enjoy life a whole lot more. I think we were the first generation to marry and start families later. We’re a bit indulgent, if you ask me. Manicures, massages, facials, gym memberships, time shares. Luxury might just be our thing. If the sixties and the seventies were people, they’d be conspiring to find a way to kick our sorry selfish butts into action. And I can’t say that I’d blame them. 

But back to this green thing. Maybe we were meant to be the green decade which was interrupted by God knows what (apparently we were easily distracted). We’re getting a second chance. And I don’t know about you, but I think we should take it. 

So if you see me at the farmer’s market buying greens while I listen to Synchronicity on my i-pod, you’ll forgive me for being stuck in the eighties, again. 

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