We were the ones, Self-chosen ones, And we had seen enough. And we had heard enough To be tired of the drama; The games that our mamas And our Papas played The plans they laid That so often did not work. The pensions and the perks That so often left them bitter Mumbling curses about quitters As they argued over parking spaces And carefully averted their faces When people were denied rights Because they were not white Or sometimes because Jews And non-whites could not be Members of their sororities And country club amenities.
They demanded no dark skin And objected to what we dressed in And wanted us to cut our hair And go find a decent job somewhere To start an acceptable career And get a decent nine to five To work as long as we were alive. We knew they were trying to protect To drive us to the life they projected That would help us get a salary And develop the kind of misery And sense of hopelessness; The exact kind of mess They were living And they weren’t forgiving When we rebelled and fought And shunned the trinkets they bought That they thought would tempt us To buckle on the harness; The long-term promise.
We rejected the temptation To join the workaday nation And get into the drinking Nine-to-five way of thinking. We swapped the whiskey For something they found risky. We smoked our marijuana And talked about nirvana In our love-beads and batik We left family homes to seek And ultimately to find friends Who wanted the same ends And would work with us, And they would walk with us To the love-ins and protests And help us pen requests For marches and gatherings To demonstrate our misgivings About who got what And who did not And how and when And which were not seen as men. But we saw poorly disguised slaves We knew we wanted to save.
We were going to fix the world So, we waded into insults hurled And high-powered fire hoses. They broke our arms and noses And trod on our signs And drew a line Between us and the public. We were criminals and suspects In crimes they invented; We patchouli oil scented Hippies wearing Birkenstocks Without any socks And jeans with protest patches Singing our snatches of songs Like “We Shall Overcome Someday”. They couldn’t hear a word we would say. They just cursed us and objected And made sure we were subjected To as much stonewalling as the law Could put up against us all.
We were going to fix the world, And we got LBJ on our side, like Jack He went on the attack And changed things for the better Still not to the letter of the law But a bit more spirit Began to exist in it Because blacks were acknowledged And could finally go to college In white schools Adhering to the rules The bigots had always ignored. And unlike before, the police Actually kept the peace Unless it involved demonstrations Against the crimes of our nation Against another nation That never attacked us Never even threatened us. These protest made us criminals And that is what the cops thought of us.
Yes, by the time Nixon was going After everyone began knowing What a rat he was and because He got caught, we saw Him get on the copter and leave And without a thought to grieve We wanted our country to cease Being some kind of insane police In an Asian country few of us knew. To stop what they put our troops through And bring the people back here So they could end the killing and fear That our country was generating. The debating was through And the country started anew By ending that situation. Peace descended on the nation And we took credit. We did do some of it. Then, we quit.
We started small companies Selling handmade gifts and soaps Not becoming the dopes We fought our parents not to be But more the people we ought to be Living in hippie enclaves That turned into yuppie enclaves And we got fatter. But that didn’t matter. We had our memories And we had our old war stories Of marching, and protesting And they were interesting enough That we lost the will to be tough And let the objections slide And hid inside our mini-farms And ignored when people were harmed By many of the same atrocities That fueled our animosities Just a generation before. We decided it was not our war And sat on our hands. And drifted like the sands.