by joe courter
It is hard for me to wrap my mind around the events in the world at this moment in October 2013. Here I am in Gainesville, Fla., a city I came to exactly 38 years ago, under the premise of taking a winter away from snow. Within a year or two, I’d found three circles of people whose successors (and the same people themselves) I am still around today. There was the anti-war crowd, the feminist crowd and the acoustic musician crowd. These circles have become my family, not just for love and solidarity, but within them they represent, at least for me, the best of human endeavors, and relief and refuge from what has become an increasingly crass and commercialized culture.
October is full of anniversaries for me. October 1969, my freshman year of college, was the national student Moratorium Day when campuses all across the country went on strike and held teach-ins on the Vietnam War—an unforgettable baptism into the anti-war movement. It was October 1986 that Jenny Brown and I started this little paper in your hands (or on your screen, Internet readers), the Gainesville Iguana. And in October 1993, as written about elsewhere in these pages, was when the Civic Media Center opened its doors for the first time, a project stimulated by the late Charles Willett, a project that has been my informal Masters and Doctorate experience, and a project to which I’ve been devoted to now for 20 years—a fantastic evolving community resource.
That said, I look at the world today and can’t believe how many things are so screwed up. You young people out there, my generation is leaving you a big freakin’ mess. We pink monkeys (it’s been mostly the pink ones, tho’ the darker ones are contributing) have used our little fingers and brains to create a tsunami of inventions and technology so major in its impact that the very climate which nurtured our evolution is being altered. Our corporate-driven mass society has made us a threat to ourselves through a breakdown in cultural traditions (empathy, community, education) and has given us a dependency on electronic stimulation and constant trivial information. Time spent in reflection, in community activities, in simple protracted conversation, are lost to computers and electronic media devices. And that we are so distracted and manipulated has contributed to we here in the USA having a government so dysfunctional that the rest of the world is looking at us slack jawed.
We have the resources to do better. Those same computers and electronic devices could be helping us educate and organize for a better world. I’m sure some of you are. But that junk food media is so hard to resist, and with the problems we face it’s so easy to zone out and abdicate our role as functional participants in building the future. I’m no martyr; at times I do it myself. Life is short, and you gotta keep the fun in it, too.
So, let’s hear it for, finally, cooler weather. And let’s hope for cooler, more sensible heads in the world.