My mind wanders as I think of the end of the sixties; yes, I was there, the sixties that is. I wanted to be at Woodstock, I was there emotionally, and although I was still in high school it was an amazing idea and a watershed moment for the generation of tuning in and dropping out. On August 15, 1969 the Woodstock Music Festival opened on a patch of farmland in White Lake, in the town of Bethel.
Promoters originally saw the festival as a way to raise funds to build a recording studio and rock-and-roll retreat near the town of Woodstock, New York which was an artists’ colony and home to Bob Dylan and other musicians. Despite their inexperience, the young promoters managed to sign a roster of top acts, including the Jefferson Airplane, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival and more. Plans for the festival were on the verge of foundering, however, after both Woodstock and the nearby town of Wallkill denied permission to hold the event. Dairy farmer Max Yasgur came to the rescue at the last minute, giving the promoters access to his 600 acres of land in Bethel, some 50 miles from Woodstock. (Thanks to History.com for information.)
Estimates of attendance went from 50,000 to around 200,000, but by the time the gates opened on Friday, August 15, more than 400,000 people were trying to get in. Those without tickets simply walked through gaps in the fences, and the organizers were eventually forced to make the event free of charge. Folk singer and guitarist Richie Havens kicked off the event with a long set, and Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie also performed on Friday night.
What a moment in time this must have been. Most of my generation wanted to be there. When the movie came out we were all there. Now more than a generation later the hope of peace – love – and rock ‘n roll has not quite lived up to the promise of that era. In fact the sixties may have been one of the most damaging periods in our national history with the exception of the Civil Rights Movement. The “individualism” promoted by that period has left us rooted in a long term narcissistic period where everyone “has their own truth.”
Jesus once said, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” Even as he spoke, many believed in him. To those who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
It’s not just ANY truth that sets you free – it is truth that is grounded in loving our neighbor as ourselves. TUNE IN -to a message of love of neighbor. TURN ON – to serving the least, the last, and the lost. DROP OUT – of selfish desire that doesn’t consider others who are hurting and longing for truth.