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But First, Are You Experienced?

November 20, 2011

Okay, today’s sermon is going to be from the Book of History, which has largely been ignored in favour of platitudes and snide remarks handed down to us from grandfatherly bastards whose memories of the world go back to an era long past. It’s nice to remember a time when hard work and gumption could get you the keys to the kingdom, and I’m all for working your ass off to make a living. However, there’s a harsh fact we’re not facing up to, and it’s because we’ve bought this perfect lie about what happened the last time the youths of the world rose up and swept out the deadwood to make room for new ideas.

That’s right, children, I’m about to expound upon the virtues of the 60s, the so-called ‘Hippie’ Movement, when teenagers and young twenty-somethings changed the way the whole world worked and thought. Looking back on it, it’s hard for us to see what those crazy, disheveled kids actually achieved, because we hang on to the anecdotes and lies bottle-fed to us by The Establishment (yes, I said it. So sue me). We remember pictures of kids being beaten by cops on college campuses festooned with ribbons of tear gas. We remember awful photographs of half-stoned kids in furs and corduroys walking around with flowers and slogans painted on their bodies, singing folk songs and trying to convince the general populace to rethink their goals and ambitions and pay attention to the world around them.

We forget racism and sexism and environmentalism and secularism and all of these concepts we like to spit out as things we didn’t need to worry about, because things were so much better back when the rich got richer and the poor went away to poor houses or died of starvation in the streets or ran illegal booze and drugs or sold their asses or… waitaminute, we still have most of that crap, and the only difference is we pretend it’s somebody else’s problem when in fact, it affects each and every one of us, and could easily BE us if we didn’t have these social institutions in place to keep us falling too far down. Instead, we blame the victim and accuse the institution of creating the problem it was created to fight. The short-sightedness and rampant cynicism hasn’t made the world any better than fighting for equality and opportunity has (and in many ways has done far worse), but we keep singing the happy slave songs taught to us by our wealthy landlords, like it’s actually helping.

We remember Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Cass Elliot, Keith Moon and John Bonham all dying horribly in their sleep from an excess of illegal substances in their heads. We remember the Hippies supposedly growing up to become the Yuppies, putting on ties and buying timeshare condos, selling out and buying in and generally demonstrating that they had absolutely no idea what they had been protesting. We forget what they achieved. We ignore it, pretend it was just a bad dream, and then we woke up to cold, hard, dark, grim, ugly reality.

We forget that, for a few generations, those messages have stuck with many of our young, even as they’ve stuck with some of our own generation. Remember when we tried to revive the spirit of the 60s in the early 90s, with Grunge and Woodstock 94 and Slackers. Every effort we made was met with cynicism and commercial exploitation. We allowed them to sell our heartfelt wish to be given a chance to live in this supposed capitalist paradise without selling our souls, and were denied. Some of us got down to getting int he race and screwing anything that got in their way, but quite a few of us sank lower and lower, some falling off, others hanging on for dear mercy, looking for a way to get by without becoming jaded, and largely failing.

Now we see a glimmer of hope in this latest generation of kids who have seen what we were saying and are pushing the boundaries forward once more, trying to show everyone, us included, that everything is NOT okay; that the Land of Opportunity has moved on to the other side of the world, and what we have left here is the Land of Opportunists. Banks are foreclosing on homes that will not be sold again for years, creditors are raiding bank accounts for the bare dregs of money we have left to keep us fed through the month, and those that bought blue chip stock in soulless futures are just looking at us with a smug look of condescension, thinking it was so easy for them once they let go of their scruples and bought and sold anything that could be marked up and resold to unsuspecting desperate people just like you and me.

This dream you think we’ve been living in isn’t a dream. It’s a nightmare, and there IS no waking up from it, because those of you who have settled for pollution and overseas labour and high interest rates and mortgages and dwindling public money for social services are sound asleep in your Matrix-like cocoons, refusing to understand that it’s not us who is ruining everything.

I apologise for interrupting your slumber, but the house is on fire. It’s time to grab your housecoat and slippers and trundle outside, because we aren’t all going to be rescued, and there isn’t going to be anyplace warm to stand after the fires finally go out.

Your bitter Uncle Eddie.

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