My new book, Challenge Authority: Memoir of a Baby Boomer, is now available. The book’s webpage includes an image of the book cover, an overview of the book, an author biography, and direct links to all online bookstores where Challenge Authority can be purchased ($4.99 for the ebook, $9.98 for paperback). https://my.bookbaby.com/book/challenge-authority-memoir-of-a-baby-boomer#.UusyZumPKUk. Click the link and go to Amazon where you can read the first 30 pages for free.
The Baby Boomer generation (estimated at around 75 million) became politically active in the 1960s and 1970s, leaving its’ mark on society. The sheer size of this human tsunami rolled through American society and fueled the continuing Civil Rights, Gay Rights, and Women’s Movements and agitation against war. It also coincided with (caused?) loosening social mores, the sexual revolution, widespread recreational drug use, political correctness, identity politics, diminishment of personal responsibility, and excesses in many areas.
The 1960s mantra of “Challenge Authority” was the basis of my political activism. What exactly does “challenge authority” mean? Certainly more than disobeying your parents as a kid. Or calling the police “pigs.” Those are juvenile acts of rebellion. Challenging authority is not an attention getting ploy to display your courage or smarts or just for the sake of a good fight. A key component is resisting the temptation to act impulsively. In short, it’s okay to break certain rules. But know why the rule exists, and have a good reason for breaking it.
In a serious political context, challenging authority does not have to be negative, especially when done with a clear purpose. Challenging authority is a form of nonviolent direct action. You must know what you want to accomplish—hence the need for focus, confidence, and hard facts. A legal/moral/ethical foundation is a prerequisite for such disciplined non-conformity.
The title Challenge Authority: Memoir of a Baby Boomer tells it all. Each of the five chapters contains at least a couple of challenge authority stories. In most cases I still believe my challenge, or at least questioning authority, was justified and the correct path.
Politics and humor play a prominent role these stories. Some of the 44 stories include:
I spent 2 ½ years in the early 1970s fighting the Selective Service System (The Draft).
I challenged my first in-laws by marrying their daughter, many said it wouldn’t last—they were right.
I questioned undergraduate professors in their swivel leather “chairs of power” (giving them a leg up in situational power) while the student languished in a rickety hard back chair. (Luckily they were all good people and quickly switched chairs when I asked; them in the student chair and me in in the “power chair.”)
In the late 1970s I convinced the UC Santa Barbara Graduate Students Association (GSA) to adopt an explicit policy endorsing/backing political campaigns and did obtain their endorsement for several political efforts while I was an elected officer in GSA.
I was arrested in September 1981 with 1,959 other people (over a ten-day period) for blockading and unlawful assembly at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. For months I had trained, and trained others, for this act of civil disobedience through the statewide Abalone Alliance and my Isla Vista affinity group, “Infinity.” I spent three days in “jail” in the gym at Cuesta College, near San Luis Obispo, California.
I challenged the capitalist powers in Santa Barbara by twice (1985 and 1987) running for Santa Barbara City Council as an open socialist. I was the only candidate (out of 16), including several liberals, in both campaigns who openly advocated non-discrimination ordinances to protect the rights of gays and lesbians.
I challenged my own fear of heights by bungee jumping out of hot air balloon on my 40th birthday in 1992.
I was always challenging leftist orthodoxy—even while a committed socialist—until I became a libertarian in the mid-1990s.
I challenged my own sometimes good sense by quitting a well-paying government job in 2009 and moving with Deb to St. George, Utah—best move in our life.
Of course, many of the stories are non-political: canal water skiing as a teenager; my attempt to master Zen meditation; becoming a desert rat; and two cat stories among others.
Every Baby Boomer, and anyone interested in recent history from the ground level can share the experience of this book on both a rational and deeply emotional level. If you were not there (there being that state of “in the zone” focus on your activity), this is a chance to vicariously experience the intensity, and if you were there you can reminisce about the “old days.”
Address all inquiries to Tom Garrison at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Consider visiting the Challenge Authority Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/challengeauthority. Your comments are welcome.