Dr. Forbush Thinks

Look at the world through the eyes of Dr. Forbush. He leads you through politics, religion and science asking questions and attempting to answer them....

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Monday, November 29, 2004

The Message of the Counter Culture

The Message of the Counter Culture

We are about forty years hence from the Counter Culture. Of course the counter culture actually began after the Second World War and continued into the present. The counter culture began as a small group of people opposed to the way things were being done in the standard American culture and to this day there are still people who find themselves in this group. However, during the second half of the 1960s the counter culture grew in size and power to fight the basic evil in the standard American culture.

Evil in America? Yes, there was and still is evil in the American culture. The first evil to be challenged by the counter culture was racial inequality. The next challenge was the war in Vietnam. The next challenge was the equality of men and women. The destruction of the environment became another challenge. Every where the counter culture looked it found evil in the system.

So, it is quite interesting that the backlash to the counter culture has come with the same religious implication. The attack on the counter culture is coming from those effected by the counter culture movement, but they are using the same type of moral argument to fight back.

Who were the people effected by the American Cultural Revolution that took place in the 1960s? Basically those who had acquired power before the 1960s had some of that power taken away from them during the 1960s. The children of these people what their power back. We need to remember that the power in much of America was passed down through families in the form of wealth, but also in the form of favors and pats on the back. Like the old adage goes, “It isn’t what you know it’s who you know.” Many of America’s most powerful people got their jobs through family connections. Since many minorities were not in positions of power in the 1960s it was unlikely that minorities would ever acquire power in almost any way. Since women had very little power before the 1960s they would most likely not acquire much power in the future. In short, the system had evolved in such a way that those who had power had the highest probability of retaining and passing on the power.

Power comes in many different forms. There is political, financial, and intellectual power. All three of these groups work together in order to keep themselves in power and to propagate their power to the next group who will inherit the power. The counter culture disrupted the system by promoting the idea that the system was broken and some people had no say in their future. Since the American culture had always promoted the idea that hard work will produce prosperity, this message motivated many to act. That action changed the way the culture looked at society and the rules many people had taken for granted.

History goes on and the people who lost their power became angry. Could you imagine a wealthy family eating dinner in a mansion in the wealthy area of town. The father tells stories about how life was when he was growing up. He tells about the servants and drivers who made his life easier. He talks about the respect he had and the job he got when he graduated from school. The kids may have some of these things, but it is most likely that the kids need to be more accountable for their lives. They need to do fairly well in school in order for their father to justify giving them a top position in the company. The father is held accountable by the board of directors and wouldn’t easily agree with a huge salary for one of the executive’s kids. The kid’s servants needed to make a living wage, so they may not be able to justify a driver or a stable hand for the kids. In short, the kids have grown up thinking that the counter culture had robbed them of their perfect lives.

These children of the wealthy have now risen to power in America and they are determined to put things right. But, the old argument for a wealthy American Aristocracy doesn’t work any more. The counter culture had exposed the evils of the wealthy. Instead, the wealthy realized that they could fight back by using their own brand of morality. They began by vilifying the counter culture by painting them with the anti-social behaviors of the counter culture. They painted them as the hippies who wouldn’t go out and find work. They painted them as the hippies who sat around all day smoking pot, and listening to rock ‘n’ roll music all day. These hippies became the symbol of the evils of the counter culture movement.

But, the hippies went away and the counter culture hid behind plain clothes of everyday people. The counter culture grew up and got jobs and raised families. But, they took their counter culture ideas with them. Laws continued to be passed to fix the broken American Culture. The wealthy continued to loose power as they methods of retaining power were exposed to the general public. The counter culture lived on in the people who demanded fairness for the poor and minorities. They demanded fairness for alternative life styles and alternative religions.

The children of the wealthy fought back again by using religion. The wealthy found that growing Christian movement could be manipulated to fight to win back their power. This is because both groups had lost something in the 1960s. When the American Culture was examined the power of the church was being examined in the same way in which the power of the wealthy was being examined. People had automatically given reverence to the religious and to religions. There was a mystery behind religions that many people recognized. People didn’t question religious power, because it would be like questioning God Himself. But the counter culture no longer gave religion carte blanche. Religion became optional. When people didn’t attend church, they were no longer under the thumb of the church. Religion lost its power.

So, we find ourselves in the culture wars once again. This time the wealthy are armed with religion and the counter culture only exists in the back of some people’s minds. The youth of today don’t know any difference. They don’t what life was life in the “old days” and they don’t understand how life could be changed if we were to go back to the pre-counter culture days. They do see some of the problems of today and they hear the religious right tell them that those problems could be solved with more religion. They are told that the counter culture, or the hippies or the liberals had ruined everything.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Evil People Dressed Up as Good Ones

Garrison Keillor is the host of A Prairie Home Companion. This is a PBS radio show that is based in Minnesota, but broadcast nationally. This is actually a rural and old fashion theme show that most people would expect to have a large Conservative following. However, the show does make fun of religion and ultra serious people therefore hitting on both sides of the political spectrum.

One of the favorite segments of the show is when Garrison tells what has been happening in Lake Wobegone over the last week. Lake Wobegone is a fictional small town in Minnesota where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average. This week Garrison tells us that at the local school board some parents were upset about the celebration of Halloween. They were Christians who believed that Halloween was a pagan holiday. Never mind the fact that Halloween actually originated as a Christian Holiday. So, it was quite ironic that the school board decided that a compromise should be reached by changing the name from Halloween to the Fall Festival. Then Garrison as narrator commented that 400 years ago people thought that it was a good idea to have good people dress up as evil people one day a year. This scenario is much preferred over having evil people dressing up as good people 365 days a year.

I would add that we have evil people dressed up as good ones in the White House all year round.