In an age of virulent cultural cynicism John Smith reflects on how people are nostalgically turning to '60s anthems of love.

John Smith
John Smith

We live in an age when we are obsessed with the luxuries of life and obsessed with the complexities of ideas.

The information explosion, and the rise of supposedly expert analysts and psychologists as the gurus on chat shows, has made it very difficult to know what to believe. But some things just don't change. Feelings of loneliness, powerlessness, sadness, regret and longing for companionship are as real as ever in the average heart. In tune with the current musical nostalgia, I've been listening to some of the golden oldies of the 60s and early 70s. So many songs of yesteryear addressed the spiritual and personal longings of that generation. Classics such as "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "We Can Change The World", "Jesus Is Just Alright With Me", "You've Got A Friend" and "Stand By Me" gave that sense of something worth living for, of a spirituality and of a sense of connection between one another.

As tame as their music may have been, The Hollies expressed two truths so well in "The Air That I Breathe" and "He Ain't Heavy".

Our extravagances have become our necessities, but as an ambulance officer friend recently said to me, "I meet people every day who would exchange their $100,000 car and two-storey house for the return of their spouse, the survival of their child or the recovery of their health." "All I need is the air that I breathe and to love you." Absolutely nothing is more precious than the knowledge of the love of God and human friends and the value of life itself. Jesus addressed it: "What shall it profit someone if they gain the whole world yet lose their very soul?" Graham Nash - of Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young fame -spoke of it: "Is the money you make worth the price that you pay when you hang out your soul on the line?" Oh that this generation would realise it's not what you own - it's what owns you that matters.

To be honest, I can scarcely listen to the old Hollies rendition of "He Ain't Heavy" without tears. In an age of "No Mercy" the old hippie anthem sounds almost antique: "His welfare is my concern/No burden is he to bear/We'll get there.../He ain't heavy, he's my brother." When made inclusive of "my sister", there can be few sweeter words of hope. In an age of rationalism, we must recover the sense that on this "...long, long road/From which there is no return/While we're on the road there/Why not share."

As Martin Luther King reflected, "Every person must decide whether to walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. Life's most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?" Next to the search for meaning and God, there is no greater responsibility and no greater joy than to love one another. That's not complex, but it's the truth. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.