Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Movie Bobby, Barak Obama, and the 60's

Last night, I watched the new movie Bobby about Bobby Kennedy. I don’t know if the producers were simply trying to take us on a walk down memory lane, or if they actually thought they were making a political statement. If it was a statement, then the movie is scary, because we have a presidential candidate, Barak Obama who obviously thinks it is time to be Bobby Kennedy.

For us who lived through the 60's, the movie was nostalgic. The 60's was an emotionally charged time and because I was in a university, I lived them to the fullest–marching in the streets, sit-ins, meeting with Freedom Riders in Mississippi, protesting the war, possibly being the first to hire a black professor in a southern university, serving in the Peace Corps, listening to Bob Dylan. Now, as a psychologist looking back, I know what caused that amazing time.

The 60's started with the end of WW II. The veterans came home and catching up with lost time, they had children by the millions, producing the “baby boomers.” Those millions hit adolescence at the same time in the 60's.

Today, we know a lot about adolescence. For example, we know the adolescent’s brain is rewiring itself, producing a higher type of reasoning ability. This new-found intellectual ability comes with both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that they can now hypothesize about complex matters. The curse is they believe they are the first people who ever had such incredible ideas for solving the world’s problems such as: “If everyone would just love one another, we could all get along.” Or, “anybody can see that if we stop polluting, the planet would be saved.” Their naive minds believe if they can see how simple the solutions are, why can’t everybody. With all the energy, impatience and arrogance of youth, they took on everything in the 60's. dominating our values, our music, our politics, and even the way we dressed and wore our hair.

In the movie, clips of Bobby Kennedy’s speeches are played. Looking through the lens of the past 40 years, I began to wonder, “Did Bobby really believe what he was saying, or was he just a smart politician giving the young people what they wanted to hear?” It was such a naive time created by so many innocents.

Fortunately, the brain continues to mature after adolescence, producing an even higher type of thinking which may be better adapted to our times. The next step in brain development is dialectic thinking. We lose our adolescent naivete and experiencing a complicated world, we can hold contradictory ideas at one and the same time. We can only hope the boomers get there.

Every problem we face today seems to include both good and evil mixed together. The most evil enemy we have ever known comes at us calling us the Great Satan. We try to fix global warming only to find that we put our people out of work and fall behind other nations in productivity. We create a welfare system to help people, only to discover that we have dis-empowered them. We try to give people a better life through cheaper goods, only to realize we are building up competing countries such as China and India. We give jobs to hungry people from south of the border only to wake up one day to find portions of our culture overrun and it is too late to make them go back home.

Through it all, many of us have the uneasy feeling that no one who is putting himself or herself forward to be our leader, is really up to the job. As Christians, we understand a world in which both good and evil exist side by side. But the answers to our problems we are getting today, especially from the Left, carry the same naive ring of those bygone innocent days of the 60's. Barak Obama’s followers look familiar.