JFK was assassinated a few days before. It was only a few weeks after my twenty-ninth birthday and it was the beginning of the biggest crisis in my life. I suddenly realized that the world was under control of "the forces of evil" that could eliminate a president who interfered with their agenda and that no one was safe from their reach not even in the middle of the Dallas police station. Lee Harvey Oswald was only a pawn, just like Jack Ruby. We never saw any of the real killers. The effect of all of this was to bring about my own personal "Mortality Crisis" . I suddenly knew that I too would die someday just like JFK. Even he was not immortal, nor was I.
The details of my crisis are too sordid and tawdry to describe here but the crisis lasted about six years and after it I was almost an adult.
I suppose some readers might wonder how I could have lived for 29 years without understanding that I wouldn't live forever or why the death of JFK hit me so hard but those of you who lived through the Kennedy Era (so short but so beautiful) will perhaps understand.
The young people of this country are normally completely apathetic about politics. The principals are seen as hypocritical liars and thieves whose only interest is to increase their own power and line their pockets. It's always been that way and I don't see any likelihood that this will ever change. Like the French say: "La plus ca change, la plus c'est la meme choses" ("The more things change the more they remain the same")
But for "One brief shining Moment" , young people became involved - the baby boomers or "Flower Children" as they were then called, demonstrated. Against Vietnam, against segregation and materialism. They exposed the Emperor's New Clothes and laughed at his nakedness. They turned on and dropped out and notwithstanding the end result of their exaggerations and oversimplifications, they filled the land with a huge breath of fresh air.
Now, forty three years later, the "Flower Children" are getting to retire, they're evaluating their 401K's and Iraq's looking at property in Costa Rica or Arizona and sending checks to the Republican National committee. They "tolerate" George W. Bush because he gave them tax cuts after Slick Willie (Clinton) gave them prosperity.
The young people of today don't have a JFK. Certainly Howard Dean is no substitute and I doubt that Hillary could inspire any of us except a few very bitter women (who are probably Republicans). Every once in a while I look around to see if there's anyone around who could spark ideas and action but as yet, I ain't seen a soul.
Their is a perennial controversy about whether it's the man or the moment. Do the times produce the hero or
do a few, rare individuals act as catalysts for major upheaval? Think Hitler & FDR, maybe JFK (if he had lived long enough) Or do the times produce the heroes?