Re: 60's era--Points East

Marc J. Gilbert (
Fri, 31 May 1996 15:00:07 -0400

Linda A. Boulter describes her experiences in Afghanistan in the mid-
seventies. Linda, we must have drunk mint tea together at some point! I
am interested in how many on this list have been to Afghanistan or passed
through on the road to India, if only to suggest to some student that
there is a dissertation lurking there somewhere. My heart sinks when the
news offers us a glimpse of the pile of human and material rubble Kabul is
today, but its past can still offer us (!) some insight into the recent
discussion about the Sixties.

I am currently doing an oral history of volunteers in development programs
in Asia in the Sixties and Seventies, and in their lives today I see my
own. Many went in response to Kennedy's call to service, the same call
that sent others to Vietnam; others went because they could. Few
dramatically changed quality of life of the people "over there," but many
dharma bums--tourists and development officers alike--in the East built a
global, compassionate vision for themselves that still inspires them
today, and informs their work no matter what that work is now. I suppose
this is why I am so disappointed with those who see the Sixties as a
monolithic event, or view its "success" or "failure" in terms alien to the
experience itself. Many of those lucky enough to make that pop-culture
trip even as tourists in the 60s are fighting the growing isolationism in
our nation even as we speak, so the legacy is a palpable one. Whether
that legacy can best the longer, older legacy defended by Jesse Helms
remains to be seen. The coming elections could always suddenly turn on
something important, like America's place in the world, couldn't it???? .
. . Nahhhh.

(My Phustu skills are shot, but my Belushi-speak is alive and well)