The Aug. 16 death of the great Aretha Franklin brought forth a flood of memories of both the great music from the 1960s and 1970s and of the turmoil of those times – the protests, the fires igniting great cities, the deaths and murders of revolters and of bystanders, and the demands for civil rights, reproductive rights and equal rights. It was, as the saying goes, “the best of times and the worst of times.”

Until we got to now.

I’m not looking back with any sense of naivete or nostalgia, but with puzzlement at those who say the times we live in now are ostensibly no different than times before when turmoil also persisted. Perplexed, I ask myself, “How can they say that?”

These times are different, frighteningly and unsettlingly so. Yes, turmoil is a constant, but in protests and revolts of those earlier days, we at least had an inkling of hope that someone was listening even while opting, perhaps, not to hear.

Today, no one is listening or hearing.

We argue against an administration, not a leader, that is cruel and heartless, one with no morals, no compassion, one that believes that hurling blistering insults at whoever stands in the way of their insane ideas is deserved. We will continue on, and yes, we are disgusted and revolted by the things that emerge from this administration on almost an hourly basis.

Five or six decades ago, among the many issues we fought for were integrated schools, women’s right to choose, peace, clean air and water, and voting rights. They are once again on the table, vulnerable to administrative attacks. We will fight hard, yet once again, but with one important deviation – today we also fight to sustain this now-fragile democracy while the planet on which we live slips away.

Today is different from before.

Luisa Deprez


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