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by Marianne Williamson   

Thirty years ago, America experienced its last rebellious generation, and looking back to the noisiness of the sixties gives us insight into our relative quietude today.

During that decade, people were politically engaged, taking to the streets to express our deepest passions about this country and its behavior.   Yet America was more innocent in those days, despite the violence of the times.   We actually thought our rebellion might accomplish something then, which few people seem to believe today.

The rebellious generation of the 1960s was ultimately quieted. Something happened then to take us off the streets and to keep us off. That something was violent threat and collective trauma, perpetrated on one generation and bequeathed to each one since as a legacy of those times.

The baby boomers were young at that time, and the young respond to dreams
and visions. Those who carried aloft the most eloquent visions of a possible
America during the 1960s were literally shot and killed in front of the eyes
of the young who so adored them. For my generation, carrying a brilliant
dream of a noble collective future meant putting oneself in the line of
fire. From president Kennedy, to his brother Bobby, to Dr. King, to the
students at Kent State, the primary articulators of positive change, of
dreams for our democracy in this stunning age, were permanently silenced-
and the bullets that shot them psychically struck us all. Millions of us
became in many ways, like the son of Robert Kennedy, who, having watched his
father murdered on television, got stoned and never recovered.

The invisible order that shot our heroes did not keep shooting, but began
providing goods and services as quickly as possible to distract a grieving
generation from our psychic pain. They did not leave us out of their
conception of what America should be; quite to the contrary, they used us as
their fodder, luring us into their planned environment of endless material
consumption. We have been relatively quiet about anything meaningful ever
since. Our leaders assassinated, our ranks dispersed, our generation
received loud instructions: go home now, scatter, go to your rooms, and
enjoy yourselves with all the toys we sell you.

We received a loud silent message from those assassinations, an unconscious
imprint that has become what psychologists call a "sponsoring belief" for an
entire generation: "you can do pretty much whatever you want within the
private sector. You will still be free of course - to buy the red one or buy
the blue one. But leave the public sector alone" And no one had to say what
sentence comes next: "Or we might kill you, too."

And so we did what we were told to do, and taught our children to do the
same. We poured our prodigious talents and indisputable genius into the
private domain. We left the public sector, which is essentially the
political sector to those - whoever they were- who wanted it so much that
they were willing to go such lengths to get it.

And thus we became a class of rich slaves. Our fear that what had happened
to our slain leaders might happen to us, our nave and immature
preoccupation with drugs, and ultimately our complete seduction by consumer
society conspired to turn us into the greatest fuel source for the status
quo that America has ever seen. Given our previous, youthful repudiation of
the downside of American materialism, the irony here is almost grotesque. We
who sought to heal America once before have helped to run her into the

We have countenanced the undermining of our political system; we have
tolerated the widening gap between the rich and poor in America to levels
deemed unsustainable by serious economic indicators; we have sold the health
and welfare of our children and our environment to the highest bidders. Like
Esau in the Book of Genesis, we have sold our birthright for a mess of
pottage. Even more important, perhaps, we're so stoned on our very way of
life, so distanced from our own authentic human knowing, that we hardly seem
to realize what a black hole these things are forming in our national

We disengaged from politics after the 1960's because of a blow to our
essential selves, and the absence of that engagement, power has been usurped
by the interests of a relative few. This is a spiritual crisis first and a
political crisis second. America's real problem is our fear to express
ourselves. Fear to be who we were born to be, and fear to do what we most
long to do. We do not break through that fear by further disengagement. We
break through fear by embracing love.

What we longed for before, and what we long for now, is to love each other.
And that is what the heroes of the sixties were saying. Looking back at the
speeches of Dr. King or Robert Kennedy, one is struck by both the genius and
the tragedy of their lives. They did not just say, "Let a man love his wife,
or parents love their children." They said, "Let us honor all life." That is
what made them so dangerous to the status quo. For that they lived, and for
that they died. They pointed to the next step in America's moral evolution-
the expansion of our compassion- and that is a step that by definition
repudiates oppression and injustice....

There is new possibility today, a miraculous awakening and a change in the
way we live our lives. It is a spiritual renaissance with social and
political implications. Restoration and hope appear all over, as a rising
environmental, community, and spiritual consciousness resurrects the dreams
of former times. Civic brotherhood is beginning, in many, many places, to
replace the false gods of self- centeredness and greed. There is a yearning
among us to make right the world.

Will this become a broad - scale social force for good or merely isolated
cases of cultural sanity? An America intending to heal itself will
unscramble the information from which we have been systematically distracted
for years, atone for and grieve our national errors, and consciously restore
the political process to its role as an enlightened tool. It will take a
miracle to do this, but miracles are always at issue in any great movement
of history. Was not the American Revolution a miracle? Was not Indian
independence from Britain a miracle? Are not miracles what our hearts most
long for now?

Out of the ashes rises the Phoenix. According to historian Arthur
Schlesinger, Americans turn their attention to politics every thirty years.
It has been thirty years since the end of the sixties, many Americans have
been taking a deep look within, and what we have seen there casts light on
many issues outside ourselves. There is darkness without, but no darkness,
limitation, illusion, or fear can stand before the force of uplifted
consciousness. Perhaps we are set to embark on a new chapter in our
evolution as a nation, rededicating ourselves to the transcendental nature
of democracy, declaring en masse our intention to have it rise at last to
the level of its true potential.

"We have in our hearts," said Martin Luther Kind, Jr.," a power more
powerful than bullets." It is time for us to use that power now, to free our
nation and to free ourselves. Mystical power is the greatest power, in
politics and in life. It reveals to us that bodies die but ideas do not, as
long as people's hearts embrace them. It is time to resurrect the ideas that
truly make this nation great. Where the sixties became a decade of death,
may the millennium proclaim new life.

Excerpted from 'Healing the Soul of America- Reclaiming our Voices as Spiritual Citizens'

1997, 2000 by Marianne Williamson- a Touchstone book. Excerpts from pages
30-35 in the Mystical Politics section.

This excerpt may be freely distributed electronically as long as it contains
all the above information.
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