“There’s something happening here, what it is, ain’t exactly clear. There’s a man with a gun over there a-telling me I got to beware. I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down. There’s battle lines being drawn, and nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”
The words and haunting guitar of Stephen Stills poured from the speakers and I remember thinking this year cannot end soon enough. With so much uncertainty, it is difficult to determine if the world will self destruct or society will implode from many months of civil unrest. There is rioting in the streets, burning of buildings, looting of shops and stores, police clashing with protesters, statues falling, and tear gas canisters flying across the TV screen, as the battle rages. Political parties are locked in a battle for power in Congress and the White House, a pandemic rages around the world, and racial tensions are at all time high.
Sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it? They are the headlines that dominate the news of today. But what if I told you I took those headlines from the year 1968. They say history repeats itself, and in looking back, boy has it ever. In 1968 there were riots in Watts and Harlem, Baltimore, Chicago and Washington D.C. and the police clashed with protesters at the Democratic National Convention. The Hong Kong Flu pandemic raged from mid 1968 until the end of 1969 claiming around 1 million lives worldwide. 1968 was the most violent year of the decade. They killed Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy, the Vietnam War raged, and people were questioning the role of the police in society.
My point is this, when it seems that the world is ripping apart at the seams, something comes along to change our focus. In 1968 Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon. It happened on Christmas Eve. The crew members read the passages of creation from the Book of Genesis, and for a moment the world took a deep breath before the New Year. I can still see those images of our world as we had never seen it before, from the depths of space. We have been through fire many times and each time it tempers the metal that is the fabric of America. I hope we can find new eyes to look upon our world; eyes with a few wrinkles around them, take a deep breath, and remember we have been here before and survived.
Lyrics from: For What it’s Worth by Stephen Stills performed by Buffalo Springfield (1967)