Sunday, June 07, 2009

Some Things We Lost

There was a time before the mid-sixties when kids (especially teenaged ones) dressed more or less like their parents. If you doubt this, go to your school district office and check yearbooks for your local high school from the the decade of the sixties - especially the grades BELOW 12th (seniors have pretty much always dressed in tuxes). Some time during that decade, the clothing stopped looking adult and starting looking what we think of today as "teenaged."

For kids to NOT dress like their parents was definitely a change, and not for the un-alloyed better, in my view. The shift signified by that event has had corrosive effects on our cultural integrity which have been a mixed blessing: yes, the 50s were a time of mindless conformity, but too much "do-your-own-thing" does not account for the obligations and responsibilities we have toward one another, and too much fissioned individualism corrodes social cohesion.

In 1948, Oakland California had about the same population as it does today, about the same racial make-up, roughly the same mix of incomes...and 15 murders. Last year there were over 100.

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