“Wasn’t that a time? Wasn’t that a time to try the souls of men? Wasn’t that a terrible time?”
The lyrics from a sixties folk song made popular by Peter Paul and Mary reverberate through the decades and remain relevant today.
The lyrics to the folk song harken back to the war for American independence and major conflagrations waged since including World Wars I and II.
I recently bought an album by Tom Paxton. Listening to his music on YouTube brought me back to the turbulent sixties and my love for the folk artists who became popular then. Listening to these songs of social conscience and satire, love ballads, Children’s songs and others that reflect beautifully, poignantly and heartfully on our human experience, I am struck by the purity of this music. It moves me deeply. It penetrates my soul. It inspires me to pick up my guitar and sing.
Looking back, I realize that these artists, these wandering troubadours, were great men and women. Some of them are still alive and singing. What a time the sixties were. What noble visions for a better world, given voice by these passionate musicians, arose from the struggle.
Some of these visions have been realized. We live in a better world today in some respects. Yet we haven’t yet learned our lessons. We live in a world where human beings still murder other human beings in the name of God. We live in a world where a Russian President is intent upon restoring Russia to its Cold War boundaries by invading autonomous neighbor states. We live in a world where hatred and intolerance still threaten our very existence.
“When will they ever learn,” Mary Travers sings plaintively. When, indeed, will we ever learn?