It happened today - June 23, 2016
“How small, of all that human hearts endure, That part which laws or kings can cause or cure.” That’s from Samuel Johnson. And I wish it were engraved in legislatures and especially executive and judicial branch buildings. And taken to heart by too many who place faith in politics. Politicians don’t create parades, they only lead them. And the parades don’t originate in the political system at all.
Indeed, as Andrew Breitbart apparently originally said, “Politics is downstream from culture.” And, I dare say, from history. Because on this date in 1960, June 23, something happened that was far more important than the election of John Kennedy that November, his selection of Lyndon Johnson as his running mate, the antics surrounding John Diefenbaker, the looming prime ministership of Lester Pearson who brought Pierre Trudeau to Ottawa or any number of inspiring or infuriating things that made the headlines.
Specifically, the United States FDA approved “the pill.” There were a number of important pills in the 1960s, from Mick Jagger’s housewives’ “little yellow pill” to Augustus Owsley Stanley’s little purple one. But “the pill,” the one that supposedly let women have sex without consequences, turned the world upside down far more dramatically even than LSD.
It let all kinds of feminist theories become practice. With, I think, very mixed and often disastrous results. But there’s a difference between disliking something and pretending it didn’t happen or didn’t matter. The pill was invented, and approved, and gender relations changed in enormously important ways that we are all still struggling with today.
It didn’t make the headlines. But it made the history books. It’s often that way.