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It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times

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Rocio Hinojosa
Contemporary America
Dr. Brad Duren
5/9/2008
It Was the Best of Times; It Was the Worst of Times
In the decade before the 70’s, the nation was concentrating on political activism. The
sixties brought a moral and cultural revolution that shocked the general population. Political
activist gathered and rallied for human rights, women’s rights, animal rights, environmental
policy, domestic policy, and foreign policy. This revolution ushered in a whole new type of
thinking. After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, his followers fragmented;
women rose up and demanded their equality; the pacifists rallied for an end to the Vietnam War;
the government was caught lying to the people at Watergate; and people lose themselves in drugs
and music. The book How We Got Here: The 1970’s—the Decade That Brought You Modern
Life (For Better or Worse, examines rebellion, sexual revolution, and family breakdown from the
1960s to the 1980s.
In the early part of the 20
th
century, immigrants would come to America in search of a
better life. Most likely, they would find themselves living in the slums of the city in a small
apartment with their wife and kids. Their job would more commonly be at a factory or an
unloading dock. And they would shoulder the responsibility for their families so that maybe
their kids would have it better than they. Of coarse their kids would grow up during the
depression and then be drafted, sent to boot camp, and sent of to war. If he survives, he’ll return
home, get a job, marry, father four children, and encumber himself with a mortgage on a house
in Bensonhurst or Canarsie, all before the age of thirty-two (57). He will shoulder the obligation
to his family because it did not occur to him that there was anything more. This was a common
story in the first half of this century. Life was labor and toil, and its rewards were never to be

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reaped by oneself, always by one’s children (57). Down the line, near 1970, the youth decided
that they would not live this way and turned away from tradition. Advertisements began
encouraging people to do such and such for themselves and indulge in the pleasures of life. This
rebellion against the traditions occurred without guns and strategies. The opinions and attitudes
of the young changed and with them their conduct and vies were shaped in a way that shocked
their parents and grandparents. From now on, Americans would live for themselves; if anyone or
anything else got in their waywell, so much the worse for them (58). The youth was urged to
forget outdated traditions, and the obsolete moral standards that were taught to them by their
parents. This idea was not new in the least many had spouted similar views in decades past but
none had been brave enough to step out of the mold. The 1970s generation was ready to for a
change and they took their opportunity to create a new society. Where in the early 60s it would
have been scandalous for a governor to leave his wife of 20 years to persuade a young mother of
four to leave her husband and marry him, as was the case with Rockefeller and Murphy. Two
decades later, it would not even be a big issue. They were two consenting adults, in love, and
trapped in loveless marriages.
Contemporary America value sincerity above almost everything else. Mid-century Americans
cared less about sincerity and more about responsibility. Their classic movie, Casablanca,
celebrates two men and a woman who stifle their true feelings of love and jealousy in order to
their respective duties. It was not that the moral standards of mid-century were so impossibly
high. Americans then were actually rather less inclined than we are to demand perfect sexual
fidelity. But what they did demand was that adults live up to the obligations they had
shouldered. They would not have blamed Nelson Rockefeller for ceasing to love his wife. They
would not have expected to hear about it if he had discreetly sought other companionship. But

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Rocio Hinojosa Contemporary America Dr. Brad Duren 5/9/2008 It Was the Best of Times; It Was the Worst of Times In the decade before the 70’s, the nation was concentrating on political activism. The sixties brought a moral and cultural revolution that shocked the general population. Political activist gathered and rallied for human rights, women’s rights, animal rights, environmental policy, domestic policy, and foreign policy. This revolution ushered in a whole new type of thinking. After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, his followers fragmented; women rose up and demanded their equality; the pacifists rallied for an end to the Vietnam War; the government was caught lying to the people at Watergate; and people lose themselves in drugs and music. The book How We Got Here: The 1970’s—the Decade That Brought You Modern Life (For Better or Worse, examines rebellion, sexual revolution, and family breakdown from the 1960s to the 1980s. In the early part of the 20th century, immigrants would come to America in search of a better life. Most likely, they would find themselves living in the slums of the city in a small apartment with their wife and kids. Their job would more commonly be at a factory or an unloading dock. And they would shoulder the responsibility for their families so that maybe their kids would have it better than they. Of coarse their kids would grow up during the depression and then be drafted, sent to boot camp, and se ...
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