I remember 1968 vaguely. My family had just moved from renting a townhouse to living in a modest house in an urban ethnic neighborhood–mostly Italians and Germans. Some of the grandparents around were “old country” people. It was something of a happy and innocent time. Teenagers in the neighborhood were somewhat crazy, but every ten-year-old thinks that way about older “kids.”
Reflecting after the fact, I think the events affected my parents with much worry. The high school where my older brother was a star swimmer in the 50s was experiencing racial tensions and outbreaks of violence. It was the main reason why my mother was looking into Catholic school, though none of us in the family were churchgoers.
I wonder if today’s ten-year-olds will experience this year as the 1968 of their generation. It seems we have widespread revolt. (I hesitate to use the term “riot.”) This, on top of a health threat we haven’t seen in a century and that nobody remembers. Plus a fragile, propped up economy defined by how much money the rich can gather rather than a rising level that floats everybody’s boat.
There seems to be a lot of momentum toward authority we just can’t kick. 9-11 has given us the surveillance state, but I’m not sure the 99% of the world feel much safer. Hurricane Katrina and follow-up storms, climate change fires, and not even Greta Thunberg can capture the attention span needed to address a potential collapse of the modern food chain.
I think future historians will look back on events like 1963, 1989, 2001, 2005, and 2008 as little blips that let the 1% consolidate their agenda. We’ll see if a triple threat like pandemic, economic depression, and racial unrest can do something in 2020. It’s sort of like 1919, 1929, and 1968 all rolled up into one nasty package.