Wednesday, August 21, 2019


                                       THE SIXTIES HAVE OVERCOME US ~ PART 9

“Life's a forge! Yes, and hammer and anvil, too! You'll be roasted, smelted, and pounded, and you'll scarce know what's happening to you. But stand boldly to it! Metal's worthless till it's shaped and tempered! More labour than luck. Face the pounding, don't fear the proving; and you'll stand well against any hammer and anvil.”: from Lloyd Alexander’s 1967 novel, Taran Wander.

Throughout 1967 human beings in vast numbers, our brothers and sisters, would find themselves
experiencing immense horrors and pain: in the Russian gulag, [1967 year of the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution], Chinese and North Korean labour camps, in race riots, anti-war riots, civil wars, revolutions, outright wars resulting in tens of thousands wounded or killed in the US, throughout Asia, Latin America, Africa.

In January, in San Francisco, occurred an event called  a “Human Be-In”, a gathering of militants and pacifists, many of the hippie culture, to solidify a determination to push forward an end to segregation, the Vietnam war, and anything perceived as limiting personal freedom, a counter-cultural attitude which was taking root in most Western countries, and would be further manifested later in the year through the so-called “Summer of Love”, when over 100,000 hippies/flower children, converged on the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, and a parallel event occurred in England. Again, the basic purpose, fueled by drugs and raucous music, was rejecting of everything deemed restrictive such as fundamental morality, but also government, consumerism, traditional Christianity.

The ‘be-in’ and ‘summer of love’ would be supplanted both by sheer numbers and cultural impact by Woodstock in 1969.

Started in 1985, by Pope John Paul II, World Youth Day[s] would offer, and continue to, a holy alternative.

Also coming out of the ‘be-in’ were so-called underground newspapers as an alternative to established media, but their influence would be minimal until the global spread of the internet which muddies the waters. Some ‘news’ found there is true, much of it not, plus the web has become a cesspool in which deeply disturbed people wallow with others of their ilk to spread scams, hatred, extreme nationalism, terrorism, pornography of all types.

Not just American society but most Western societies would experience the revolutionary upheavals spawned by a generation rejecting everything that had preceded them. The influence of the US culturally, religiously, philosophically, morally, as well as economically and militarily, was the catalyst influencing Western Europe, Great Britain, Canada, as they too headed ever more blindly down the rabbit-hole of the culture of death and darkness, prevalent globally in our own day.

Two major events occurred in 1967 that cost countless lives and, due to the paltry response of the rest of the world, set the stage for innumerable conflicts: for example the Rwandan genocide which began in 1994 and the ongoing civil war in Syria, the persistent, often violent, tensions between Israel, the Palestinians and the wider Arab world in the Middle East, the rise of Islamic terror groups, the displacement of millions of people who rush, from mainly the southern hemisphere to, Europe and North America seeking a more humane life.

In June it was the Six Day War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Thousands of combatants were killed and injured on both sides and the map of the area changed dramatically with the capture of Jerusalem, by Israel, home to the world’s three major monotheistic religions. The continued control by Israel of the so-called West Bank and the Golan heights remains a simmering cauldron that could boil over instantly and drag not just the region but perhaps the world’s major powers into the conflict. The best summation of those six days: “Employ hindsight but humbly, remembering that life and death decisions are made by leaders in real-time, and not by historians in retrospect.” [1]

In July it was the Biafran War which dragged on until 1970. Fundamentally a dangerous mix of ethnic, tribal, religious animosities and outright hatreds led to the Nigerian area known as Biafra seeking to establish itself as its own nation. Some 100,000 military casualties are recorded but this pales in comparison to the 500,000 to 2,500,000 civilians who died from starvation in the two and a half year conflict which in the end would see Biafra as an independent country cease to exist. “There is a moral obligation, I think, not to ally oneself with power against the powerless.” [2]

However, it would not be until well into 1968, with images of starving children on the nightly news shaming the West, that there would be any response to the plight of the Biafran people.

It would be a Canadian Broadcasting anchor of the nightly news, Stanley Burke, who would startle the world by resigning to devout himself to the plight of the starving children, an impact not unlike that Walter Cronkite of CBS news would have in the following year with his stance regarding the war in Vietnam.

Briefly, as it would take a series of books to outline the tragedy, ever since the League of Nations humiliated Haile Selassie, once Italy had invaded Ethiopia in 1935, through to the civil war and drought which triggered the 1983-1985 famine costing millions of lives, Ethiopia serves as a cautionary tale about half-hearted efforts of the West in particular when it comes to the plight of our brothers and sisters suffering famine, war, dictatorships etc., for while things like Geldof’s “Band Aid” [no irony there] raised awareness and money, much of which ended up in the hands of the dictatorship to be used against the Ethiopian people – Peter Gill noting: “No country in the world confronts the threat of famine more painfully and more frequently.” [3], we still fail to address the root causes of disorder or famine or epidemics in other countries as, much as we fail to address homelessness, drug epidemics in our own.

Post-Biafra to our own day, in Africa in particular, religious, tribal, ethnic violence continues to cost millions of lives, impedes attempts to deal with things like the Ebola outbreaks, allows for murderous dictatorships, while the rest of the world blithely saunters along scooping up the natural resources of Africa while barely lifting a finger to help the millions of innocents who suffer day in and day out.

For all the blather of the ‘be-in’ and leftist radicals of the sixties, many of whom, albeit elderly now, or their offspring fed on the pablum of the left, when they are in power, keep their backs turned on those who suffer and avoid taking on the murderous and repressive regimes which out number democracies across the globe.

In March of 1967: a year which from every angle was a Bacchanalian year of hedonist, selfish excess, and dystopian efforts which only revealed non-Gospel rooted arguments for an utopian life without fidelity to Christ, Pope Paul the VI published a critical teaching on how to address the real problems of humanity in his encyclical Populorum Progressio: On The Development Of Peoples: The progressive development of peoples is an object of deep interest and concern to the Church. This is particularly true in the case of those peoples who are trying to escape the ravages of hunger, poverty, endemic disease and ignorance; of those who are seeking a larger share in the benefits of civilization and a more active improvement of their human qualities; of those who are consciously striving for fuller growth……The injustice of certain situations cries out for God's attention. Lacking the bare necessities of life, whole nations are under the thumb of others; they cannot act on their own initiative; they cannot exercise personal responsibility; they cannot work toward a higher degree of cultural refinement or a greater participation in social and public life. They are sorely tempted to redress these insults to their human nature by violent means…… Every form of social action involves some doctrine; and the Christian rejects that which is based on a materialistic and atheistic philosophy, namely one which shows no respect for a religious outlook on life, for freedom or human dignity….It must be admitted that men very often find themselves in a sad state because they do not give enough thought and consideration to these things. So We call upon men of deep thought and wisdom—Catholics and Christians, believers in God and devotees of truth and justice, all men of good will—to take as their own Christ's injunction, "Seek and you shall find." Blaze the trails to mutual cooperation among men, to deeper knowledge and more widespread charity, to a way of life marked by true brotherhood, to a human society based on mutual harmony.  [4]

1967 was also the year Great Britain legalized abortion. Two years later Canada would follow suit and it would be 1973 when the US Supreme Court would find in favour of abortion in the Roe vs. Wade case. While 1967 may be remembered through rose coloured glasses by some, in fact it was high tide for the illusion drugs, sex, rock and roll, protests and rejection of Christianity and embracing unlimited secularism would assure the utopia dreamed of.

It is said about Abba Anthony, the friend of God, that when his monks came to him and asked about the future he told them: “The day is coming when they will come to us and tell us we must be mad because we are not like them.”

1967 was the year when there could no longer be any doubt that the anti-Christian tsunami of the culture of death was heading towards us.




4] all citations in italics are from:

© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph

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