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Genre: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY
SubGenre: Personal Memoirs
Language: English
ISBN-13: 9781483515847
Publisher: BookBaby
Publish date: 1/18/2014
Edition number: 1
Pages: 261

Challenge Authority: Memoir of a Baby Boomer

by Tom Garrison

Overview

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. However, a few times my challenging authority was a dismal failure, often due to my immaturity and lack of experience.

Visit the Challenge Authority Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/challengeauthority

Description  

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. However, a few times my challenging authority was a dismal failure, often due to my immaturity and lack of experience.

Politics and humor play a prominent role these stories. Some vignettes include my challenging the Selective Service System (The Draft) for 2 ½ years during the Vietnam War era; learning a Zen-like concern for quality while leaf raking as a work-study student in my undergraduate years; being a war tax resister for many years; hosting an “Untying the Knot” party with my first wife while getting divorced; doing jail time (along with 1,959 others) for civil disobedience in trying to stop the opening of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in California; twice running for Santa Barbara City Council in the mid-1980s as an avowed socialist and being the only candidate to openly support gay and lesbian rights; and bungee jumping out of a hot air balloon on my 40th birthday.

The stories are supported by more than 600 original letters and emails from and to me that examine the issues of the times—politics, relationships, and the culture—from the 1960s to the present. Additional documentation includes published articles about or by me, my journals, considerable Internet research, poetry, and hundreds of photos. The book contains 44 stories, with many complementary photos, in five chapters and more than 73,000 words.

Visit the Challenge Authority Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/challengeauthority

About the author

I am the youngest of four children to two Dust Bowl Okies who migrated to Shafter, California in the Central Valley. My family was fairly apolitical, with Republican leanings. I graduated with a BA in political science from California State College, Bakersfield in 1974 (magna cum laude); earned a MA in political science from University of California, Davis in 1976; and finished everything but my PhD dissertation (ABD) in political science at University of California, Santa Barbara in 1980.

I began political life as a typical McGovern liberal, moved left to become a card carrying member of the Socialist Party USA, and in the late 1990s evolved into a libertarian.

During undergraduate and graduate studies I was active in-on campus politics. As a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara in the late 1970s I led the Graduate Students Association in joining the nationwide Coors beer boycott and several other political campaigns. In 1972 I joined the War Resisters League and participated in and organized anti-war protests, including giving public speeches before crowds numbering in the hundreds at UC Santa Barbara. For more than 10 years I protested a portion of my income taxes as being war taxes. In the latter years of that period, I withheld part of my income taxes from the federal government. In 1980 I was arrested, along with hundreds of others, for civil disobedience at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. From the early 1980s to the mid-1990s I was a hyper-active socialist: twice running for Santa Barbara City Council openly as a socialist in the mid-1980s; worked with tenants (three city-wide rent control campaigns in seven years), and gays and lesbians (Deb, my wife, was the first heterosexual, or “breeder,” on the Gay and Lesbian Resource Center Board of Directors); and fighting political cultists in California’s Peace and Freedom Party (the only socialist party with ballot status in California). During this period I also found time to work full-time as an editor (from 1982 to 2000) of a political science journal published in Santa Barbara.

From the early 1980s to 2000, I published several political articles in publications such as Liberty magazine, the Santa Barbara News-Press, the Santa Barbara Independent, The Socialist, Left Out, and Tenants United.

From 2000 to 2009, I mostly dropped out of politics and concentrate on my job (Real Property Appraiser for the Santa Barbara County Assessor’s Office); building a real estate “empire” (four rental condos); and exploring and hiking the southwestern United States with my wife, Deb, as often as we could get away.

In 2009 we moved from Santa Barbara to St. George, Utah. In the past three years (up to December 2013) I have had more than 40 essays published in The Salt Lake Tribune and The Spectrum (local St. George daily newspaper). It is a rather eclectic group of articles: hiking/travel stories, political essays, and humorous musings.

I also published a book in 2012, Why We Left the Left: Personal Stories by Leftists/Liberals Who Evolved to Embrace Libertarianism. See the Why We Left the Left webpage for more information including direct links to online bookstores: https://my.bookbaby.com/book/why-we-left-the-left/

In September 2013 Why We Left the Left was awarded Honorable Mention in the Non-Fiction Category of the League of Utah Writers Published Book contest.

In September 2014 Challenge Authority: Memoir of a Baby Boomer was awarded 2nd place in the Non-Fiction Category of the League of Utah Writers Published Book contest.

Visit the Challenge Authority Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/challengeauthority

My latest book, Hiking Southwest Utah and Adjacent Areas, Volume 1, was released in December 2014. The webpage, including links to online bookstores, is found at: http://my.bookbaby.com/book/hiking-southwest-utah-and-adjacent-areas

The Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hiking-Southwest-Utah-and-Adjacent-Areas/1489605251309735