Flashback

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50 Years Ago

Jesus was almost missed. He appeared at a certain time and place in history, a common bearded man with no wealth or status. He did what he had to do about helping the sick get well, encouraging the oppressed, and giving humble persons a dream to live by.

But he was almost missed because people were looking for something else—something unfamiliar and magnificent and different from themselves.

They thought both good and evil in life were to be found somewhere else than in a common man like themselves.

… We can all put a name on what we see as the “problem” in life—draft dodgers, birchers, commies, red necks, hippies—anything or anybody but ourselves. We used to escape responsibility by blaming everything on something called Satan. Now we just remove ourselves from what we feel is wrong and start blaming someone else for it.

The problems are not anywhere but in us, and so are the solutions.

… “Peace on earth” comes from inside and among us if it is going to come at all. The first step toward peace is to recognize that massacres in Vietnam and pre-dawn police killings in Chicago and Los Angeles are the result of our own inner violence, frustration and fear.

Once we recognize it, we can begin the task of building the peaceful society alongside the bearded man who did what he could about helping the sick get well, encouraging the oppressed, and giving humble persons a dream to live by.

⁠—Jim Symons-Bill Taylor, 12/24/69

40 Years Ago

The Pacific Sun brings you the highlights and the lowlights, the big names and the bizarre games, the wits, half-wits and nit-wits that made 1979—let’s face it—one of the decade’s truly disgusting and spectacular years. It was the year of the gas line; the year the Yankees finally lost the pennant; it was a year for international crises and domestic malaise; it was a year in which disco, mercifully, began to crumble; in which Bob Dylan converted to Christianity, in which the Congress of the United States finally admitted what everyone already knew—that John Kennedy’s assassination sixteen years ago was the product of a conspiracy—but lamely declined to do anything about it.

⁠—Richard Raznikov, 12/21/79

30 Years Ago

Elvis spoke for millions when he sang, “It will be a blu-u-e Christmas without you …”

If the holiday season is a time for sharing with loved ones, then it’s hardest when those we love are missing—separated by death, distance or disaffection.

“Christmas brings back all the memories of other times shared, and loss seems more exquisite at this time of year,” says Joan Sheldon, director of Marin Sucide Prevention Center’s grief counseling program. “Any holiday is significant in this way because it’s a time when people get together, so the vacuum of someone missing seems enormous.”

Although Sheldon deals primarily with those grieving a death, her comments may be helpful to the newly divorced, those separated by distance and those who simply feel lonely as others brim over with holiday enthusiasm. She suggests reviewing traditions and rituals to decide which to continue, change or leave behind. Perhaps it’s time to create a new tradition for a new period in your life, maybe something as simple as changing a longstanding holiday menu.

⁠—Joy Zimmerman and Greg Cahill, 12/22/89

20 Years Ago

Ted Keys, another founding member of the 100 [Black Men], says he joined the group “out of fear” for the future. “I was wondering, at this rate, where will we be in 10 or 15 years? If I can’t walk down the street at night today, what’s it going to be like for my kids? If we were standing on a street corner and a policeman drives by and shoots us, would anyone care? Or would they just say, ‘Oh, it was a black person, he must have deserved it?’”

It’s only recently that lawmakers have realized what black people have known for years: Black drivers are stopped by police at a much higher rate than whites, often for no reason other than their race. Legislators call the phenomenon “driving while black.” Keys states that, since he bought a brand new truck, he’s been stopped on a regular basis, though never given a ticket.

⁠—Jill Kramer, 12/22/99

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