In my lackadaisical, Twitter-prone, mind, the 1950's in America were a time when people remembered all too clearly the sorrow and sacrifices of World War II. It was a time when what was near and dear was held close in the wake of a time when what was near and dear had been shattered -- family, friends, social order, trust and a quietly creative industry.
All of this was sheltered behind freshly-painted white picket fences -- both literally and metaphorically. Rules ruled and those rules assured a very desirable security. There were excesses like the rise of McCarthy-ism, but generally speaking, things were better and more peacefully patriotic than in times of lawless and cruel explosions. In 1954, the words, "under God" were spliced into the Pledge of Allegiance ... "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
But was there ever a time or place when rules were not challenged and broken? Any set of rules ... pick one. The 1960's broke out from behind the white picket fences of the 1950's. Beatniks, flower power, burning bras, psychedelics, sex-drugs-and-rock-'n'-roll. The old rules were challenged and broken with some wonderful results and some idiotic ones.
Has it ever been different? Teenagers routinely 'rebel.' What was once etched in stone is worn or chiseled away. Security is not enough. Freedom becomes the rallying cry.
And the same is true of individuals, I think -- creating and rebelling against self-imposed rules only to find that the rebellion itself creates new rules, new parameters, new strangle holds. Breaking out turns out to be little more than breaking in. Zen Buddhism, for example, takes aim at this endless cycle with its encouragement, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!" On the one hand, there are no rules, on the other hand, there are always rules ... the ping-pong ball bounces back and forth and there is no time to kick back with a beer.
Central to it all is the matter of "other." Somehow, there needs to be some willingness to examine the "others" in this life. How "other" are they really? Does "other" make sense? It won't help to dissolve in a blissful puddle of "oneness" and it won't do to pursue the fragmented separations of the past. Peace and freedom simply do not give it up to such applications.
Examine. Find out. Don't take "no" and don't take "yes" for an answer.
There really is a beer waiting for you in the fridge.