I was born in 1970, which was a year in the center of a philosophical movement that was spreading throughout the western world. The influence of this movement can best be seen in what came out of publishing houses and the entertainment industry. “So Human an Animal,” by Rene Dubos, “Be Here Now,” by Ram Dass, and “Slaughter House Five,” by Kurt Vonnegut were just a few of the many books asking its readers to look at their lives, and society, from a different perspective. Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, Douglas Adams and other science fiction writers used their works as a mirror to our world. “Logan’s Run,” “Soylent Green,” “Planet of the Apes,” and other movies created discussions about the human condition. The Who, Pink Floyd, The Beetles, and the music industry was filled with social introspection and a cry for change. Beat poets like Alan Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, philosophers like Alan Watts, and entire cities like San Francisco created an echo, an idea, a belief, that we could achieve peace, both worldly peace and peace within our minds. All we had to do was change.
It was an amazing time, but I had no idea what I was born into. I was unaware of the Vietnam War, I was three when America pulled out of it. I was unaware of the civil rights movement, and had no concept of racism. I didn’t know about Kennedy or Martin Luther King being shot. I was a child. I was unaware of how the time I was born into, and the echo, the idea, the belief in peace created during the late 1950s through the late 1960s, would influence the way I saw the world, and how I would interact with it.
The echo continued throughout the 1970s in it’s music, its literature, and its media. A great deal of that echo was directed at the children of that decade, children like me. The media asked us to accept everyone, regardless of race or religion. It asked us to protect our planet. It asked us to create peace with all nations, and many of us never doubted that the world was becoming a better place, and that we would play a key role in making it so.
The 1970s were also when the “Philosophy for Children” movement began. Psychologists and researchers began to question Jean Piaget’s (1933) theory of cognitive development, which suggested that, prior to age 11 or 12, most children were not capable of philosophical thought. Research began to speculate that that Piaget’s theory seriously underestimated the cognitive ability of children. Children were found to have the ability of reflecting on their own experiences, and able to have thoughtful and insightful discussions, as early as third grade. Organizations like the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children and the Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education (SAPERE) are now focused on promoting philosophy within children, and encourage children to think about thinking. In short, children are capable of thinking about thinking, and the children of the 1970s were brought up during a time when every form of media seemed to be focused on thinking about social change.
The “Monkey Mind Tales Series,” was born from the echo of social change created by the generations before me. The books would not exist without that echo, and it is my hope that my books will help keep the echo alive.
Steve Michael Reedy