Sunday, June 25, 2017

These awful Canadians spirited the 1960s into the 21st Century

The 1960s get a bum rap, here in 21st-century Canada. All those awful Boomers who came of age back then have destroyed the economy, the housing market, job prospects, let's just say the whole shebang. But just imagine where we might be if the international “counter-culture” that emerged in the Sixties had never happened. With Canada Day 150 upon us, I’ve been ransacking 50 Canadians Who Changed the World. Here I find world-beaters who challenged authority, rejected consumerism, marched for women’s rights, investigated consciousness, and led the way “back to the land.” I discover Canadians who spirited the Sixties into the 21st century:
       Stephen Lewis. Embodying the anti-materialism of the 1960s, this activist-humanitarian created a foundation that leads the global war against HIV-AIDS.
Margaret Atwood. A feminist leader since the 1960s, she has been hailed internationally for exploring not just women’s issues but political oppression and the exploitation of nature.
David Suzuki. Since the 1960s, when as a young scientist he became aware of threats to the environment, Suzuki has been a leader in awakening the world to climate change.
Leonard Cohen. Having proclaimed early on that Magic Is Alive, this Zen-monk troubabour sang the spirit of the Sixties into his eighties: The Old Revolution, Waiting for the Miracle, First We Take Manhattan, Halleluleah.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau. After emerging onto the political stage in the 1960s, this fluently bilingual intellectual turned Canada into a global beacon of pluralism:  multicultural, multiracial, and multinational.
Joni Mitchell. Not only is she the Picasso of Song, but Mitchell has never ceased to speak out against the double standard applied to female musicians. And one of her lyrics has become an environmentalist refrain: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
Where in 2017 would we be without these half dozen Canadians and others like them?