I keep thinking about the current condition of the United States. I have never seen the country so divided and so angry and so confused. We are watching the nation rip itself apart. I keep thinking and thinking and asking, “how did we get to this point? How did this happen?”
And then there it was. Right there, coming out of my radio, the theme from The Monkees, the pop/rock, four member band created in the mid-sixties for a TV show. That theme song said it all:
Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees
And people say we monkey around.
But we’re too busy singing
To put anybody down.
We’re just tryin’ to be friendly,
Come and watch us sing and play,
We’re the young generation,
And we’ve got something to say.
“And we’ve got something to say”. Something to say, which was what that “we’re the young generation”?
You’ve got to remember the time that saw the creation of the Monkees, the sixties. Pepsi advertised itself as, “Now it’s Pepsi, for those who think young”. The Who was talking about “my generation”. It was all about the young generation, the baby boom generation. It was all about us, the boys and girls born after World War II. We were the generation which forced cities and towns across the nation to build thousands of schools as new housing developments exploded. We were the generation which was behind the creation of “The Mickey Mouse Club”, a TV show aimed at this huge, new audience. We were the generation which was the target for the creation of the Honda motorcycle and the Ford Mustang and muscle cars. There were so many of us that it truly was all about us. It was easy to see that the older generations meant nothing. Anyone who was not a baby boomer was an old fogey. It was about us and we had “something to say”. We were cool because we were cool and we bought it. If it wasn’t about us or for us it just wasn’t cool. We actually thought that we were something special.
Being so important was so cool. But of all those important baby boomer people who were the coolest? Whoever screamed the loudest that they were cool. Whoever had ”something to say” the loudest, something to say that was easy like peace and love. They were cool and that meant to be cool like them we had to say the same cool things. And we listened and we bought it over and over again. We watched as a whole generation got excited about us and we just had to be right didn’t we?
We were special because we weren’t our parents or our grandparents and that made it real easy to be special and cool because that meant that we should be whatever they were not. We were the counter culture. If they warned us about the dangers of using drugs than drugs were what we wanted. If they wanted a good job and a family and a strong nation then we didn’t. If they loved their country and fought for her then we didn’t and wouldn’t. The baby boomer generation fell right into line following those who blamed America first and then hated America and all that the nation stands for. And it was all so simple. Your opinion didn’t really mean much unless it was the right opinion. Have the right opinions and you’re cool, you’re important and your life had meaning. Just wear your hair long like the hippies in San Francisco do, like your father never would and you were groovy and you were someone who cared, someone of importance. We were ribbon wearers before there were ribbon wearers.
And then the years slipped by and it was still about us because of our numbers. Housing? About us. Employment? About us. TV and movies? About us. It is about us into the future too because after the housing developments and schools which were built for us there will be hospitals and nursing homes in the future because of us.
After all of these years too many of our fellow citizens are still lost in the sixties and still trying to be special and cool. And where are we today? Where do we find the nation? Being led and fundamentally changed by old hippies and hippie wannabes and directed in the press by old hippies who still think that they’re special. “We’re the young generation and we have something to say”.
Want to know what I think, what I have to say? Give me a minute and let me find out what the cool people have to say. I’m special, Hey, hey.