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TO THE SIXTIES:
1960's saw a vast sea change in the American people's awareness
of their environment. Not only the outer environment of land,
water, and air, but also how food and drugs could have a negative
impact on the health of Americans. In 1962 a marine biologist
named Rachel Carson published a study on the damage done by
poisons and pesticides used widely in agricultural production
both in farms and also in homes. The pesticide DDT was singled
out as unusually damaging to all forms of wild life and humans.
Rachel Carson's book " Silent Spring " generated a
hostile reception among the pesticide manufacturers who tried
to discredit her, but the message was now out and neither the
American government nor the American people could ignore the
warning. The environment was now a critical issue both politically
and culturally and it would become more so in the decades ahead.
love affair with the automobile would also become an environmental
issue. By the 1960's, 41,000 miles of highway had been constructed
by the American government connecting the cities with the newly
sprawling suburbs and a " drive-in " culture was rapidly
coming into being. Drive-in restaurants, motels, banks, and
drive-in movie theatres dotted the landscape. Americans drove
to work and also to have fun and the air pollution caused by
the automobiles forced the American government to establish
emission standards for automobiles to prevent further air pollution.
Automobiles that emitted too much smog were made illegal.
American government was also forced to warn American consumers
that cigarette smoking was dangerous to their health. This was
done with warning labels on cigarette packages. Television advertising
for cigarettes was also prohibited.
Americans also became concerned about food pollution. Color
additives and preservatives in food were seen increasingly as
potential sources of cancer. Pollution in streams and rivers
also was seen as harmful to the health of Americans. Hundreds
of thousands of chemicals were being released into the environment
and it was unknown what the ultimate health effects of these
chemicals would be on the American population. Pollution from
nearby nuclear reactors was also seen as a potential health
threat as the effects of radiation became better understood.
The atomic blasts in Japan and American nuclear tests at home
had shown that radiation could linger in the air and harm all
humans in the vicinity of where the nuclear energy was being
released. This atomic danger would become clearer as the decades
moved on. Americans soon discovered that they were living in
a very complex world.
MOMENT IN AMERICAN HISTORY:
Texas. November 22, 1963. It was here in this Texas town that
American history shifted radically. President John F. Kennedy
who had been elected in 1960 had brought youthful energy and
passion to the presidency. Using television, President Kennedy
rapidly became a handsome TV star along with his beautiful wife
Jacqueline who represented to Americans a new version of royal
glamour unseen before in America. President Kennedy was eager
to shake things up and get the country moving again. He was
a leader who wanted to shape history and he surrounded himself
with idealistic professors and intellectuals-people who wanted
to make a difference.
on November 22, 1963. America's innocence came to an end. It
was a sunny day as President Kennedy rode in his car and was
shot to death by unknown assailants. The man accused of shooting
President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald was himself shot in front
of the TV cameras as a live American audience watched in fascination
and horror. Oswald's death made his trial an impossibility and
fueled an enormous body of conspiracy theories that continue
to this day. Only two bullets had been seemingly fired from
who had shot Governor Connally riding next to President Kennedy?
Who was really behind the assassination? Witnesses had seen
unknown men running away from the crime scene, but no one else
was arrested. Doubts and distrust were now growing in the American
psyche. An era of Televised trauma had begun. Negative forces
were at work in America and no one wanted to take the blame.
Only five years later, President Kennedy's brother, Robert F.
Kennedy would also be shot while running for the Presidency
prompting more whispers that would never be silenced.
ON POPULAR CULTURE:
does one describe the beginnings of an invisible movement that
would effect Americans just beneath the surface of their lives?
In 1962, two American visionaries Michael Murphy and Richard
Price founded the Esalen Institute near Big Sur, California.
The Esalen Institute quickly became the launch-pad for the new
Human Potential Movement. It was here that an ambitious plan
for exploring human consciousness was begun. Many psychologists,
writers, teachers, poets, and spiritual practitioners soon started
leading seminars and workshops concerned with the vast inner
potentials of the human mind.
Esalen Institute soon offered to the American public new forms
of experimental mind therapy that attempted to bridge the gap
between western psychology and eastern forms of religion. Meditation
and altered mind states were soon explored in order to enrich
the workshop participants so that they could see the deeper
roots of their psychological gifts and problems. Many kinds
of mind and body work were invented at Esalen that tried to
show the close links between the mind and body and how disruptions
in daily life between the body and mind then caused various
illnesses. This was something terribly new for many Americans.
new wholistic view of reality was being pioneered at the Esalen
Institute. People were taught how to see the complex links between
things on many kinds of levels. Mental illness generated physical
illness. Destruction of the physical planet generated dangers
to the long-term health of the human race. What was being discovered
from the moon outwardly that the earth was a complete living
system with fragile links was now being discovered inwardly,
through the consciousness of each individual, at the Esalen
Institute. Outer space and inner space were fusing inside the
minds of a few Americans and this cultural evolution would create
a new group of Americans who would later number, at least, fifty
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contents of this site copyright by Michael Arthur Finberg