One day when I was attending graduate school I mentioned in class that the authors of both the books we had read that week had both emphasized that they had been college students in 1968, that year in our nation’s history when the world seemed to be falling apart. To my astonishment the professor asked “What happened in 1968?”
That little vignette came back to me earlier today when I came across the documentary short that Chuck Braverman produced for the The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in early 1969. I had not seen this in many years. One can draw many lessons from Braverman’s minor classic. The one I will draw on here, after our divisive election season, is that the world has always been troubled but that, whatever one believes or wherever one falls on the spectrum, the world is not grinding to a halt. From Harding in 1920 calling for a return to normalcy after the Great War, the influenza epidemic and the riots of 1919; to FDR’s first inaugural in 1933; to JFK’s January 1961 message about being disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, our nation has gone through anxieties of many varieties before today’s times. Breath deep and take in Chuck Braverman’s brief history lesson.