Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Musings: Thoughts on the 1960's - Part III

Thoughts on the 1960’s - Part III
One of the things I love most about writing personal essays is that one has no idea where one is going with the essay when you start. Both the writer and the reader take a journey together, exploring ideas. This began with me seeing snippets of a documentary, Gloria--In Her Own Words, about Gloria Steinem and her life’s work helping women. The clips triggered memories of becoming a young woman during the 1960s - I went from 11 in 1960 to 19 in 1969, at which point I got married, but that’s a whole other story. Oh wait a minute, I wrote that one already.
My whole adult life has been about trying to heal from wounds such as early childhood sexual abuse, growing up in a dysfunctional family, making poor relationship choices, losing custody of my only child. I’ve dissected all of these events, therapied myself to pieces, and it’s worked to some extent. I’ve become someone who has fairly decent self-esteem. I like who I am. But there are things about me I still don’t understand.  Like why it is I can’t handle violence, whether it’s in the movies, on TV, or in books. Forget about real life - that goes without saying. Or why I have distanced myself emotionally from the things that are going on in the world. Or why I feel so strongly about certain issues that I could get violent over them, but of course, I wouldn’t because I can’t handle violence.
Having grown up literally watching the Vietnam War, race riots, and demonstrations on television, kind of made me shut down somewhat. Seems I was shaped by turbulence - internal, familial, and external. I was already shut down because of the personal things which happened (mentioned above). But the sixties were a tough decade to live through.The messages I received were: You are a woman and have the right to be equal. You can do and be anything you want. Translation: you can be superwoman - work, take care of a child and a husband and a household. You should want peace but you should seek it nonviolently. Gandhi is probably the person I most admire for this reason.  Sex, drugs and rock’n roll. I escaped the drug culture, thank goodness, but rock’n roll is in my DNA and the words and music impacted me greatly.
What is my take away from exploring this. I’m still not sure. The only thing I am sure of is that everything we see, hear, feel, and experience affects us. We can choose to be conscious of how it does, or, like I did when I was younger, we can shut down, go on auto-pilot and keep putting one foot in front of the other living life half alive.
Good changes came from the turmoil of the 1960s: Civil Rights, Womens’ Rights, environmental awareness, the Peace Corps, etc. We face many challenges in our country right now. I wish there was some way the powers that be could look at what worked in the past and what didn’t, and find new ways of solving problems that don’t include violence. And in my own little world, I continue to seek ways to find inner peace and contentment in the midst of upheaval and challenges.
What about you?


welcome to my world of poetry said...

I loved the 60s, bad news didn't seem so bad as it does today, I was married and had two children. Music was the best for decades, Yes the 60s had everything.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Karen .. I can understand your feelings ... I hate horror, violence, don't like reading about it, famine etc etc .. I avoid it like the plague .. I think we can take on board, what we need to, but if we don't need to - then it's better to leave it.

Doesn't mean I don't know about it or I wouldn't want to help if I was in a position to do so .. but I can only do what I can do. Your last sentence sums it up .. :

"And in my own little world, I continue to seek ways to find inner peace and contentment in the midst of upheaval and challenges."

I'd love to have music in my genes - it's there and I love it, but to be able to play and understand it .. however the 60s was a great era .. enjoy your Labor Day today .. Hilary

Arlee Bird said...

You and I have much in common and we were both shaped by the same era. My upbringing was more sheltered and protected which caused me to have less anxiety about violence, but the violent images have certainly been all around me. I am a very non-violent person, but I accept the violent and cruel nature of much of the world and as it has been throughout history. I'm thankful to have been where I have been and that so far my children have had a life similar in many ways to my own.

Music has been a huge factor in my life. I don't like where a lot of the music has gone in recent decades, but thank goodness we do have plenty of choices. I'll take the music of my youth any day.

Tossing It Out

Dafeenah said...

Ilove how you're doing this series. It would be so great if they used things like this in schools to explain history. It makes it seem more real instead of something that happened far away in a distant galaxy to non people. It's given me a better understanding of what the people who were actually experiencing those events felt and went through. Thanks for sharing this.

Karen Walker said...

Yvonne, you are right, the 60's had everything.
Hilary, thanks for these thoughts
Lee, it's so interesting to me how even two siblings growing up in the same house can experience the same events very differently.
Dafeenah, thank you - I'm glad.

Jules said...

The 60's were my impressionable period, while the 70's were my experiencing period. Once you start laying the brick for those walls, it becomes extremely hard to knock it down.

And if only "our powers to-be" would listen to you. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

L.G.Smith said...

I'd take the turmoil of the sixties over the complacency of today.

Suze said...

'Like why it is I can’t handle violence, whether it’s in the movies, on TV, or in books.'

I am like you in this regard, Karen. Very much so. Why should it startle us that we don't wish to see violence perpetrated against another? Shouldn't being inured to violence raise eyebrows, instead?

Karen Walker said...

Jules, if only...
L.G., I think my shutting down became complete when Watergate happened. I was so disillusioned. Still am to some degree.
Suze, you are so right. Being inured to violence should definitely raise eyebrows.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Ironically, I think my generation became desensitized to violence. I'm sure the generation after that even more so. Real life violence is still horrible, but it doesn't phase me when I know it's not real.
Regardless, I'm still a very non-violent person.

Karen Walker said...

I do think video games and violence in movies and on TV have anesthetized us somewhat. Not sure that's a good thing.

Amalie said...

I'm a child of the 80s, so I guess I grew up with lots of 'entertainment' violence, violent games and such... at least in my adolescence. But I still can't handle *real* violence. Violence on tv/movies can make me cringe, but that on the news really messes me up. I guess, for me, it comes down to whether or not you've learned empathy along with it. Interesting post though.

Ella said...

I don't like violence; I do agree we are less sensitive to it. I am not if it is because of all that we have viewed or not. News bothers me...
I was born in the 60's; I don't like where we are headed as a society, but not sure how to fix it.