Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lift the black cloud ... the old order is just clinging by its fingernails and the cultural glacier moves on. Someday we'll laugh at this silliness. Gun craziness. Gay marriage bans. Maybe not today... but someday

"Do you mean to tell me women couldn’t vote in America before 1920? Why, that was just 93 years ago."

"You’re not serious. Really? Blacks were once counted as only three-fifths a whole person? In America?"

"What? Coca Cola once contained cocaine? That’s crazy."

Not so crazy, actually. All true. And, this morning allow me to use those three hard-to-imagine ideas to lift the black cloud of recent events from my head.

We live in interesting times. Since the early 1960s, we have lived in a world in the midst of great cultural upheaval, not unlike the vast political, geographic and economic upheaval of the industrial revolution. Real change, real revolution is slow. The 1960s did more than introduce the world to Muddy Waters and end the Vietnam War. They began the glacial movement of the centerpoint of American culture that we are today finally able to measure.

The centerpoint will continue to move across our landscape. You can’t hold it back or turn it around any more than you could hold back a glacier once it is in motion. The game is still being played but the outcome is decided.

So, what we see in these final machinations of the political and cultural machine are the last ditch efforts of the past to hold back the future. It is that thought with which I comfort myself this morning.

Someday, I propose, somebody will say to somebody else:

‘You’re kidding. You could buy a gun at a gun show or on the Internet without a background check? That’s crazy.’

‘You mean to tell me in those days a person could keep an arsenal fit only for war in the closet of his home?’

‘That’s wild. People actually argued for fewer restrictions on the rights of people who are mentally ill to have guns? Guns?’

‘Man, what a crazy time. The government kept track of who bought cold medicine but not machine guns?’

'Really. Are you serious? A guy actually shot his wife by accident in a restaurant when the gun in his pocket went off? In his pocket? In a restaurant?'

'A teenage kid. A nine-millimeter in the pocket of his hoodie? Went off accidentally and shot a child??'

‘Are you serious? The Missouri legislature spent time debating a law about chili suppers when all this was happening?’

‘Really. Investment bankers actually got away with that shit in those days? That's highway robbery!’

'Do you mean to tell me they didn't have universal health care back then? How could that be? What happened if you got sick?'

And, of course:

‘The government actually restricted who could be married to whom? Really? If you were gay you couldn't marry? They actually said marriage is defined as one woman, one man? They said that?’

These changes are inevitable. They have already happened. Nowhere was Bob Dylan more prescient than 50 years ago when he wrote “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”

“Come senators, congressmen 
Please heed the call 
Don’t stand in the doorway 
Don’t block up the hall 
For he who gets hurt 
Will be he who has stalled 
There’s a battle outside and it’s ragin’ 
It’ll soon shake your windows 
And rattle your walls 
For the times they are a-changin’..."

Way back in 1963, Mr. Dylan just about nailed what happened in Congress and the rest of the world yesterday. As he so eloquently put it: “The order is rapidly fadin…’ Indeed, it is, though on some days it may not look like it.



  1. I really hope that in my life time I'll be able to reminisce to my children or grandchildren about "the dark ages" of the United States where we had all these absurd laws and non-existant laws.