As a high school and college student, I remember feeling I’d missed out on the excitement and activism I’d watched on the nightly news in the 1960s. By the late 1970s when I graduated from high school and college, the Civil Rights protests had ended and the Civil Rights Act passed, the Vietnam War was over, President Nixon had resigned after the Watergate scandal, 18 year olds were given the right to vote, the Endangered Species Act and Environmental Protection Agency were established and we even celebrated Earth Day and took actions to clean up pollution.
Only the Equal Rights Amendment still drew attention from activists, but I’m afraid citizens became weary of marching, protesting and other political activities after nearly twenty years, and the work on ratification of the ERA fell by the wayside as most people erroneously believed the amendment was not really needed since women already had equal rights.
I’m sorry to say I was wrong about missing all the excitement and activism of the ’60s. The past week has illustrated the need to renew our enthusiasm to act. For my entire adult life, we’ve been lulled to sleep that everything was fine…ignoring the problems of poverty, homelessness, pollution, energy, women’s issues, low wages, corporate greed and net neutrality. Just to name a few.
But this past week, Americans have come out of hibernation and begun to act.
It looks like the activism I missed out on in the 1960s, I’ll get to participate in in my 60s. We’re all learning or relearning that democracy requires more than voting, paying taxes, serving jury duty and obeying laws. It’s our responsibility to voice our opinions, protect the less fortunate and guard the rights guaranteed in the Constitution.
- Speak out.
- Contact lawmakers.
- Volunteer in your community.
- Support organizations with your time or money.
- Be kind.
But whatever you do, don’t give up. Act.