When I left the United States in 1970, I knew I had to. I had spent years working to end the war in Vietnam. I had knocked on doors for Eugene McCarthy. I had seen Lyndon Johnson defeated by my generation only to be replaced by Hubert Humphrey. The soundtrack for these years had been Phil Ochs.
My first year in Toronto was euphoric. Free at last, I lived with a deserter from the U.S. army who I had helped come to Canada–my personal anti-war effort. But my romantic high was interrupted by a Canadian friend, Larry, who told my then husband and I, “being an American is a scar you’ll have for life.” After watching the Phil Ochs story, “There but for Fortune” , I finally know what Larry meant.
To be an American radical in the 1960s was inherently manic-depressive. And I will always carry that psychic scar of incredible highs and lows. I’m just grateful that I watched the movie in a day when I can ask my American FB friends to read this and comment. How did you mend those wounds? We can move into the present–I try–but I see dictators falling in northern Africa and the middle east only to be replaced by new puppets. I see the forces of oppression and social injustice triumphing in Canada and the U.S. Is this negative thinking or an accurate spin on today based on past lessons?
Please share your hopes and fears with me. It’s lonely being an exile in Canada, surrounded by good friends who have never experienced the insanity of being an American.