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  • Kai Bradner

Resistance Against All Odds: Where Have All The Flowers Gone?




As the conflicts in Ukraine, Haiti, Gaza Ethiopia, and Myanmar continue, I must constantly remind myself of the power of activism and the power created when passionate individuals come together to support a cause. Our voices are enough to make a difference. I often draw inspiration from the counterculture movements of the 1960s and 1970s “Make War Not Love”.     


 Feel how you want

Love how you want 


The Vietnam War marked an important shift in American culture and thinking. Why all of this needless death, why did the American government encourage young men to sign up to die in a foreign land? War and death are profitable. The American elite has purposely committed actions for personal gain and we still allow the power of the Military-industrial complex to influence our foreign policy.


Death and war have become horrifyingly normalized. There is no sugarcoating the atrocities we have witnessed. The constant media coverage of war has desensitized our minds. Where just across the sea one family can celebrate with loved ones and just a thousand miles away another family can be running from bombs. How have we gotten to this point? 


One theory is Emotional desensitization “With repeated exposure to violence people become “numb” to the violence, they experience less anxiety with each new exposure. This “numbness”, in turn, is thought to make people more accepting of violence”.  When confronted with this reality people often respond with “What can I do, how can I stop a war”? As ironic as it is that is exactly how those in power want us to feel; complacent. Never underestimate the power of being loud. All it takes is one person to stand up and say– “Enough”. 


During a recent trip to Goodwill, I stumbled upon a special record. “Where have the Flowers gone? The harsh imagery of the gravesite and the subtle beauty of the flowers articulate a sorrowful breeze.


Where have all the flowers gone? 

 Young girls

They've taken husbands, every one.

Young men

They're all in uniform.

They've gone to graveyards every one.

Graveyards

They're covered with flowers every one.

Flowers

Young girls have picked them, every one.


Around the world, there are graveyards filled with innocence, graveyards filled with once boundless potential, and graveyards filled with flowers. There are countless stories of young, vulnerable men being preyed upon by the military fighting in a war that has no reason. This song stands as a protest against meaningless death, inhuman war, and the disregard for life that many seem to carry.



Photo By Kai Bradner


After showing the record to my father his eyes shot up with nostalgia the “flower children” he exclaimed as he began showing me different artists who have all sung The Flowers Are Gone. First sung by Peter Seeger - an American folk singer hailed as  “America’s tuning fork.” The other artists that lent their voices to this song were inspired by the burning passion of Seeger’s lifelong fight for equality, and peace.  




Those who rejected societal norms were labeled “flower children”.  Flower children were often described as unwashed, acid-heads babbling about peace and love who rose and began to organize an all-encompassing movement built off of love”. The flower children ushered in a strong sense of rebellion against the constrictive norms of the time, demonstrating that the power of the individual is at the heart of the movement.


There is a long list of other” flower children” who lent their voices to the movement and released unique versions of “Where Have All of The Flowers Gone”. Peter, Paul and Mary, The Brothers Four, The Four Seasons,  and Joan Baez. Art is a language of its own communicating through different senses whether it be music, poetry, or painting, art is a symbol of resistance.

 

Much of the activism seen today is reminiscent of the counterculture movement of the past. Social media has become a powerful tool in the fight against corruption. Teenagers and young adults now have access to a massive network where organizing and community building is far more accessible.

 There have been constant comparisons between the Vietnam War and the United States’ actions in the conflict in Gaza. There is no denying the blood-curdling amount of lives lost due to constant bombings, and inhumane restrictions. As Peter Seeger and the Kingston Trio have demonstrated we must never stop singing- let our voices be heard so justice can be taken.



Freedom Plaza Cease-Fire Protest; Photograph by Kai Bradner

 

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