Beatniks, bombs and bollocks by Trevor Plumbly

Peace and love

In the 60s, the British public weren’t ready for hippies. We had long hair, moustaches that struggled to impress and a creative scruffiness guaranteed to make mothers cringe.

We were the new aliens; others tore themselves to pieces chasing the dictated norm, but we dwelt on a higher plane. We knew full well where the ills of the world lay, but didn’t achieve much in the way of curing them. We marched, of course, clutching signs saying, “Ban The Bomb!”, or the more creative, “Fighting For Peace Is Like Fornicating For Chastity!” Some (including me) sat down in Trafalgar Square to deliver the message and got arrested for our trouble. ‘Peaceniks’ as we became known were a well-meaning bunch with an anti-war message; apart from shouts like, “get a bloody job you long-haired git!” we marched without incident. Perhaps the issue made some sense to Joe Public or, more likely, they felt we were all harmless pot smokers.

A modern tragedy

I don’t think I could protest today: it’s got a bit too confrontational for old bones. Looking back, it was a lot simpler: we messengers of enlightenment didn’t get angry about things, the sexual identity alphabet didn’t exist and cultural differences weren’t subjected to the emotional dissection they are now. Modern thinking requires such things to be aired at length, yet imposes PC barriers when it comes to open comment. We all like to deny it, but there’s a bit of prejudice in all of us, so we pick safe conversational routes to advertise our liberal approach to the sticky stuff. Admittedly, years of repressed discrimination aren’t going to get fixed overnight, but the current bits of lip service won’t speed the process.

He ain’t heavy

If I could march again, there’d be plenty to turn out for: in England, refugees desperate for a better life died in a sealed container truck, at the same time the moral apologists declared that singing “Rule Britannia” was culturally offensive. In Australia, the majority of Aborigines live in poverty of one sort or another while hundreds, imprisoned in offshore camps, wait hopefully to enjoy “the wealth for toil”. America, a country founded on immigration, built a wall to prevent those less fortunate from joining “the land of the free, and the home of the brave”. In NZ, we’re polite about prejudice, we like to think ourselves above that sort of thing and anyway, if we don’t talk about it too much, it can’t possibly be a problem.

This land is your land

It’s not a bad song or promise in its broadest sense, but given today’s population growth and the millions struggling to escape starvation and oppression, it’s a pretty meaningless bit of nationalism. Isn’t it time we all grew above that? The so called ‘developed’ countries need to get past neighbour as a geographical concept and think beyond the traditional comfort zone of giving through OXFAM, UNICEF etc. by offering habitable living space and opportunity. Only some form of inherited protectionism prevents Australia, Canada and New Zealand from opening their borders more to share basic human needs. Owning more land than you could occupy or use productively might have framed the social fabric years ago, but it’s surely a disgrace that, in the interest of trade tariffs, some countries continue to subsidise landowners for not producing food, while a plane flight away children are being forced to eat grass in an effort to survive.

Cometh the hour

We’ve always put a lot of effort into finding new ways to wipe each other out. The ‘old’ bomb isn’t much of an issue anymore; most ‘developed’ countries have got a few big ones lying around to threaten each other with, which tends to cancel out ideas of one-sided mass destruction. The ‘new’ bomb’s a bit more complicated: a combination of plastics and chemicals, guaranteed to screw up any environment even down here in NZ. The lunacy of MMP is behind us for a few years, so there’s a chance we can start to legislate towards ‘clean and green’ for the sake of our kids. Maybe it’s time for the new dreamers to march against safe drinking water in plastic bottles costing roughly the same as Pepsi-Cola, unswimmable rivers and sewage polluted beach warnings hardly meriting national news. God knows there’s plenty of stuff out there to protest about, so get off your arses and march guys, it’s your turn!

Now I’ve got that off my chest, have a happy Christmas!

Cheers, Trevor.

Let us know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: