Forty years ago, in May 1968, an international youth dazzling around and baffling movement left, early in the year, the Pacific Californian coast of Berkeley to spread back to Old Europe and explode with contrasted violence in France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, shaking former Czechoslovakia (resolved on Aug. 24th by a good snap to Alexander Dubcek) and swirled till the Chinese rivers in the form of revolving cultural revolution. In terms of generations, it is normal to consider that it corresponds to something like two generations at a time when baby-booms and birth controls were not really under perfect “management”.
By that time, Israel was just stunned that she had won a decisional war in 6 days, as if a new creation was suddenly showing hopelessly. Today, things are “bebedikah – under checking”. Was it correct? right? wrong? We are caught into questions while the world thinks to know what the solutions are. One thing is definitely real: this period June 1967-May 1968 has profoundly paved the way to the immense changes that happened in Europe and the Middle East – slowly show in Asia – only at the turn of the 20th century.
The substantial point is the spiritual issue. As time passes, we might consider that soul think tank can show up everywhere, anyhow as creative elements of spirituality. In France, May 1968 reached to no revolution. I mean there is nothing comparable between a cruel and bloody cultural revolution and the family-like disorder and “brothel atmosphere” described by a Gaulois Charles de Gaulle. All through these months I quietly went to Copenhagen and back to Paris which more resembled some night-and-day sitting and never developed into some odd “Actor Studio’s” pre-soap sitcom.
“Il est interdit d’interdire – forbidden to prohibit” is so and only French! Just try to say and make it in other countries. In Germany and Italy things grew with violence. In France, the people’s work proleterian forces were on strike, en mass. They were thinking. Frankly, they do the same at the Knesset “Khoshvim – we think” and we are indeed on a permanent revolving mood, not exactly the same as in the world.
The war carried by the fighters of the intelligentzia allied to the comrades of the working class in the fabrics match Jean-Paul Sartre screwed between his “l’Etre et le Neant – To be and Nil = existence or nothingness or destruction to nil). The big match spread from Berkeley in a new trend: people needed sex, copulating, more sensuality. Say that the RAI could hardly show the daily life of Adam and Eve and their beloved children. The society broke into several trends that led to very present issues such abortion pills, pills, (women deciding via instruments the time or their desires to be pregnant or not). Meanwhile abortion continued to exist and be the only “model” of birth control in communist countries.
The problem is that today, the same work rights, human rights, birth rights, freedom show in a way that may appear to be rather split. For the Churches, the movements shook establishments but did not destroy them at all.
Judaism was busy in rebuilding and raise from the ashes of the Deportation-Extermination. There were no Holocaust nor Shoah as we understand them at the present. Silence and reinvigorating forces were used to overcome an immense tragedy that had happened in the Europe that could be considerd as having apostazied Christendom. This major issue, that only starts to be reviewed and surveyed adequately at the present,was then impossible to be mentioned or determined with certainty. We only get now the archives of the Second World War, and thus only for a part.
The true response came 22 years later by the late Pope John Paul II visiting Paris and the cathedral of Notre-Dame: “France, qu’as tu fait du don de ton bapteme? – France, what have done of the gift of your baptism?” (May 30, 1980). The Protestant Churches reacted with more splitting while the Church of England continued to loosen her general sense of comprehensiveness. In Germany, the Lutheran Churches will show to be very active during the collapse of communism in Hunagary, Romania, Carpathia till some parts of the present Ukraine where the Reform has always been significant.
France’s is still on the way. but undoubtedly the negative aspect of the May 68 movement has been defeated. The crisis is perhaps deeper because France is traditionally considered as a Catholic country. It is indeed and without contest the Western Latin Catholic “Eldest daughter of the Church”. In opposition to Germany and most other European Central and North-European countries, it never faced a permanent competition with important Protestant Churches. Today, the confrontation is definitely international, all-Christian. It is certainly too early to see the seeds of what has been sowed by cardinal J. M. Lustiger’s generation od hierarchs and ministries.
On the other hand, the French theologians (de Lubac, Chenu) rose from World War II paving the way to Second Vatican Council II, supported by Hans Urs v. Balthasar and cardinal Ratzinger. The unchanging element, persistent is thus that, with much care, the heads of the Catholic Church led to the implementation of the Council in an optimistic view
Nonetheless, the Vatican Council had ended without the presence and the participation of numerous participants that could not join the Assembly. When it broke out, May 68 caused a sort of earthquake. France is interesting as it is both a faithful and critical area. On the other hand, when the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia the same year, they seized “again” the Hussite home and Velehrad – the borderline where Saints Cyrille and Methodios preached the Gospel in the vernacular (Esperanto-like) Slavonic tongue with the blessings of the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople, being persecuted and banned by the Frankish Latin Christians who disobeyed the Catholic (open to the plerome) and Orthodox (authentic, true) faith. Forty years later (and some centuries), the dialog between the Churches faces similar problems of competition and slow, rather prudent approaches between the partners in Jesus.
In Europe, in the Middle-East and in particular in Israel, the Churches face the tremendous development of the State of Israel and the internal quarrels of the Palestinian Authority, linked with the general view of how the entire region will develop in the coming years. Is Islam frankly a new threat for the European and Nera and Middle-Eastern countries with numerous Christians?
Short-sighted? short memory? The Ottomane Empire was licking the Donau in Vienna and was present for centuries in Spain, Yugoslavia, Greece. The Turks were the master of Turkey, the Middle-East and the Maghreb, as if Christianity and Islam were mirroring their faith and searches for truth.
This should also be a part of our reflection about the future and reality of Eretz Israel. Indeed, all these events are mixed together. When they reached the former Soviet Union, they brought more breathing and force to carry out the underground combat… against falling mills. Our task is to see the mills that do function today and certainly will tomorrow.
Alexander Winogradsky Frenkel
May 25th, 2008 – 20 deIyar 5768