Wednesday 28 September 2016

Bring back the Sixties and love, love, love

John Masterson

Published 27/06/2016 | 02:30

John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono in August 1980
John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono in August 1980

I didn't quite make it as a grown-up in the sixties. I was too young to go to Woodstock. I only read about the 'summer of love' and missed the opportunity to do endless quantities of soft drugs and enjoy free love. By the time I could grow my hair long, it was no longer an act of defiance. Though it did militate against successful hitch-hiking, which was my mode of transport. I know more about John and Yoko now than I did then thanks to Sky Arts. I did see The Beatles record All You Need Is Love on a world television link-up. It was on a screen so snowy it was hard to know which Beatle was which. It all seemed to innocent, but there was an infectious idealism and many people my age still feel the remnants of it. Hippies put flowers in rifle barrels. It wasn't perfect, and Charles Manson was a monster in any age. But there was hope. And idealism. I miss idealism.

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Apartheid is no more. Segregation in the Southern States is history. The "troubles" started, were horrendous, but have more or less stopped. But the horrors we have to face up to now make all of these look manageable.

Horror is the new norm. We have just absorbed Tunisia, Paris, bombs on planes, Orlando, when we have to deal with a new sicko who was so filled with hatred that he brutally murdered Jo Cox. As it happened between Orlando, a place where I have spent more happy hours than just about anywhere on earth, and the murder of the MP, mother, wife, and idealist, I was reading To Kill a Mockingbird. To my shame I had never read it, a victim of the stupid 'I saw the film' mentality. The narrator's voice, Scout, is a young girl who is growing up in the hate-filled racist South. We see her father, Atticus, battling to help her to think for herself and to understand justice, no small task when she attends the trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman where hatred is more important than evidence.

Children have to be taught to hate. And adults are very good at it. Just give them a religion or an 'ism' to tag it on to. 'Us' and 'them' are ready to go. I am one of those atheists who knows the Bible reasonably well and there is a lot to think about in the admonition to view things as a child.

With each new atrocity Twitter sets ever lower standards in venom, vitriol and hate. It frightens me what people who are capable of doing joined up writing are capable of thinking. I can almost understand why politicians are afraid to address the issue of repealing the Eighth Amendment which should never have been put in in the first place.

I want to live in a free society where respect for each other is the norm and where we treat each other as we expect to be treated ourselves.

Is that too idealistic ? Imagine.

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