I was watching the movie Gandhi on some cable channel the other day. Ben Kingsley does such a great job in the title role. It is a wonderful movie, and I was feeling nostalic about it and remembering when I first saw it.
But the nostalgia that I was feeling most is that of a 55 year old liberal from the late 1960s and the early 70s. As I listened to the tabla drums and the sitars in the soundtrack … I wondered whatever happened. What happened to our idealism? What happened to “flower power” and “the summer of love” and all that? How did the me-decade of the 80s, the trickle-down economics of the Reagan era, and so on erase all of that? Why did we let it?
One of my best friends in college had waist length red hair and big bushy beard and smoked a lot of weed … and after we graduated he started buying up the little houses we had rented in suburban San Diego, and by the early 90s he was a millionaire … and I’ve heard recently that he is now on Sen. McCain’s election committee. How did that happen?
I went off to business graduate school and then law school and then seminary … and somehow I never lost that liberal idealism. Why did others lose it? Where did we go wrong?
I asked these questions of an on-line community to which I belong. One member facetiously suggested that the answer is “brain damage” but I don’t think that’s really it. Another echoed my question, “I wonder that, too. And I wondered where the outrage was when we went into Iraq, where was all the idealism and protest and the young energy to fuel it?”
Another suggested the answer might be found in Scripture: “Might the answer be in part of Sunday’s RCL Second Reading, 1 Timothy 6:10 – ‘The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil’ (or variant translations of that)? Money and power (or its close ally, influence) are very powerful and addictive drugs with a heady scent that attracts many.”
I suppose that might be it … possessions, status, “stuff” (as George Carlin called it) are very addictive.
Still … when I listen to the ragas in Gandhi and remember listening to Ravi Shankar (or even the Beatles), I still wonder what happened to our youthful idealism….