Well, looking at today’s state of affairs, not much.
The world is still divided on racial, religious, ethnic, and cultural lines. It is fifty years after Vietnam and the U.S. is still engaged in a quagmire halfway across the world, with no end in sight. Terrorism is here, stronger than ever. Planes are still hijacked, civilian areas are still bombed, and civil liberties have been curbed to protect us.
African-Americans in the U.S., Aboriginals in Canada, and students around the world still feel like they have no voice, no power. This has caused movements like “Black Lives Matter,” atrocious conditions for Aboriginals in Canada, and student strikes, protests, and unrest on campuses in North America, Europe, and elsewhere.
It seems tragic that we haven’t learnt much from mistakes nearly half a century ago. The whole purpose of history is to do just that. But clearly we haven’t been able to. This leaves little prospect for the next fifty years.
I had to leave this series on 1968 on a negative point, but the facts are what they are and we have made them. So, we are to blame for our present situation. However, because we are in control of our destiny, we do have the capability to change our direction for the better.
I guess there is a little bit of hope after all. It’s in our hands.
Besides the tensions by the end of 1968, cultural events would take place that would play a large role in the lives of teenagers for years to come.
In October 1968 in Surrey, England the rock group Led Zeppelin would make their very first live appearance. The band’s music continues to inspire musicians today and the lyrics and guitar rifts are synonymous with rock’n’roll. On December 26 the band would make its first live appearance in Denver, Colorado, bringing their music to the ears of Americans for the first time
Not to be outdone, The Beatles released their classic record, “The White Album.” Filled with classic songs like “Back in the U.S.S.R.”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, and “Revolution 1”, it would change music entirely. Within the first four days of its release in the U.S. it sold over 3 million copies and became instantaneously part of the counterculture.
In October 1968 the Summer Olympics would take place in Mexico City amidst student protests and violence and the Vietnam War looked like it was approaching the beginning of the end.
The Mexican government, to prepare for the Olympics, invested about $150 million to promote Mexico, shield the world from its own social tensions, and suppress unions. Students in universities across the country were outraged at the denial of their civil liberties, and their inability to protest.
Starting in the 1950s former colonies gained their independence. These nations were primarily in Africa and Asia where colonial powers had cemented their power for decades. But after World War Two, Africans and Asians wanted independence.
India, Pakistan, and Burma were among the first nations to become independent. The Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea, Cambodia, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan soon followed. Some independence movements were violent and some were negotiated.
In Canada laws denied women the vote, employment, equal pay for equal work, and the right to contraception and abortion. It used to be legal for a husband to rape his wife. These laws have all been abolished. So, why after all these years should laws be telling women that they can’t use their bodies to make money?
During August 1968 the Republican Party would nominate Richard Nixon as its Presidential candidate, the Democrats, still reeling from the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, would nominate Hubert H. Humphrey, and the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia.
July 1968 was a relatively tame month compared to the rest of the year, which isn’t saying a lot. July would be the low point of tensions throughout the year. However one event that took place would haunt, and continues to haunt, global politics and global stability. On July 17, Saddam Hussein stages a successful coup and assumed power of the Revolutionary Council in Iraq.
Yesterday, the Liberal government in Canada’s Parliament tabled legislation that would give transgendered persons equality under the Canadian Human Rights Act, full protection under the Criminal Code, and explicit guarantees that they not be discriminated against on the basis of their gender identity or gender expression.
On June 5, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy entered the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles looking forward to celebrate his primary victories in California and South Dakota that evening. It looked like Robert Kennedy was going to go to Chicago and get the nomination of the Democratic Party for President.