It’s one thing to misread polling data in a close presidential contest, as happened with Mitt Romney’s team in the last election. It’s another to read things so wrongly that you miss an imminent revolution. Yet this is exactly what happened in the early 1960s.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you remember the sixties, you weren’t there,” a saying that can only be understood fully if you were there, as I was.
Raised in a Conservative Jewish home on Long Island, the highlight of my 13th year (which was in 1968) was not my Bar Mitzvah, which was more of a social event than a spiritual event because of my nominal Jewish upbringing. Rather, it was seeing Jimi Hendrix in concert at the New York Philharmonic.
Now that was an experience. (For good reason his band was named the Jimi Hendrix Experience.)
One year later, I was smoking pot and using LSD, and by the age of 15, I was shooting heroin and other drugs before having a life-changing experience at the age of 16.
Without knowing it at the time, I was the product of two revolutions, the counterculture revolution and the Jesus Revolution (also called the Jesus People Movement), both underway in full force in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.
So dramatic was the cultural shift because of the counterculture revolution that author David G. Meyers, writing in 2000, pointed out that,
Had you fallen asleep in 1960 and awakened today (even after the recent uptick in several indicators of societal health) would you feel pleased at the cultural shift? You would be awakening to a:
· Doubled divorce rate.
· Tripled teen suicide rate.
· Quadrupled rate of reported violent crime.
· Quintupled prison population.
· Sextupled (no pun intended) percent of babies born to unmarried parents.
· Sevenfold increase in cohabitation (a predictor of future divorce).
Soaring rate of depression – to ten times the pre-World War II level by one estimate. (Adapted from his book The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty.)
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.