Come together! was the cry that became a Movement in the 60s. It was in the heart of a whole generation and fueled by a desire for a love we sensed was possible and a justice we knew the world needed. Woodstock in 1969 offered the hope that people could actually come together and love one another, caring for each other, sticking together like glue, being loyal friends and lovers forever. Something basic in the human spirit was ignited to motivate a generation of young people to abandon the status quo and strike out to find the elusive dream of love.
This desire for a life of love that would change the world and bring justice to all mankind didn't start with the beautiful flower children of the 60s, although that's the way it seemed at the time. In fact, people have longed for love and justice for thousands of years but have never been able to do it long enough to truly change the world.
But when the time of our destiny came, we were unable to put into practice two basic elements of love. To have love is to give up one's most precious possession: the self. We failed to see that love is not free, nor is it self-seeking.1 We continue to reap the damage in our souls for the freedom we thought we had.2 We chose what to give to others and what to keep for ourselves. Judge for yourself the condition our culture is in. Do love and justice prevail?
We couldn't love. We simply couldn't lay down our own life for others every day like true love requires.3 That's why the free love we had didn't change the world. That's why injustice remains twenty-five years later, with no end in sight. Instead of being an example for the world to follow, the Woodstock Nation has become just another wave of survivors, trying to make the best of it until we die.
One thing we did see: we needed to share if a revolution of love and justice were to prevail. We scorned materialism and self-serving comforts in our quest for a simpler, less complicated life. We didn't value security in possessions or in the rules of the establishment. We longed for a better way to live, free from hypocrisy and greed. We ached to be the ones who could really do it. Many tried living communally to put this faith into practice, but for most of us, the vision quickly dimmed as the cost became self-evident. It was hard to put others first. We couldn't do it. A barrier deep in our own soul surfaced that no amount of LSD could tear down: self! We simply couldn't get past our own need for personal security and satisfaction. We didn't necessarily see it so clearly at the time. What we needed was a source of power to love in a selfless way. To be able to share everything without retreating back to our own life with our own things was easier said than done.
So, now in our forties with the world in our lap, what statement does the Woodstock Nation have for humanity about injustice? Beyond the easy exchange of our dope and our bodies back then, how have we come together? We had our plans for utopia, but couldn't overcome the root cause of injustice that kept the justice we dreamed of from rolling down like water and the righteousness like everlasting streams.4 Philosophers, kings and politicians down through the ages have tried systems of belief, government policies and experimental lifestyles to conquer greed. Nothing has worked because when it comes right down to it, everyone accepts that you have to put good old number one first -- and everyone lives that way.
One man proved there was a more excellent way to love. 5, the Messiah, the King above all kings, came to his people Israel proclaiming the most radical solution to injustice that has ever been proposed. Historian H. G. Wells called it the most challenging and provocative call ever given to mankind:
... the Kingdom of Heaven, which was the main teaching of Jesus, ... is certainly one of the most revolutionary doctrines that ever stirred and changed human thought ... it is clear that his teaching condemned all the gradations of the economic system, all private wealth, and personal advantages. All men belonged to the kingdom; all their possessions belonged to the kingdom ... Again and again he denounced private riches and the reservation of any private life."6
This man Yahshua claimed to be the Son of God and His message of love offered a solution for injustice known as the gospel of the kingdom. He dealt with the motivation of greed at its root when He told all men everywhere that they "... must give up all their own possessions"7 in order to follow Him and thereby be His disciple. He was not advocating a political system that forced people to share all that they have, like the failed experiment of communism. Instead, He called them to follow Him, to renounce everything and come after Him and obey His teaching. Renounce means to give up or put aside voluntarily.
So His followers renounced everything to gain the life He offered them. Their obedience to His words, leaving their families, their jobs, their ambitions and desires, and giving up all their possessions, left them with nothing of their own lives. When they abandoned everything they had known, He gave them His life -- eternal life. Together they relied on each other, each taking care to look out for his brothers' needs, and not his own. This radical obedience to the Master is what produced the Community described in Acts 2 & 4 in the Bible. Giving up everything was the catalyst for Community, and caring with each other is what demonstrated justice to all those around them.8 Such a visible witness was the only way obedience could be demonstrated at a practical level. That's why they were all together and held all things in common. No one claimed that anything he had was his own. Thus there were no needy persons among them for all who had lands, houses or farms would sell them, bringing the proceeds of the sale and laying it at the apostles feet to be distributed as each person in the Community had need.9
Loving enough to give up all possessions left the disciples on common ground with each other. It brought them into a common life together. Radical love that gives itself up eliminated the inevitability of rich and poor. Our Master Yahshua had the true way to redistribute wealth. This redistribution of wealth was administered in the Commonwealth of Israel where justice was thereby demonstrated as a light to the nations of the world. This demonstration of love and justice expressed the kingdom of heaven right here on earth. Actually doing it was the undeniable proof of their love for Him, that they were His disciples, that they had passed out of death into life -- eternal life -- and that they had the love of God in their hearts.10
But their love soon waned and the result was people holding on to their own lives and possessions and justifying it, still claiming to possess eternal life. The religious system that emerged is the Christian church many of us drifted from or rejected in the '60s. After almost twenty centuries, greed and hypocrisy had polluted this entire Christian culture to the point where there was not even a remnant of the early church experience left for us to pattern our lives after. In fact it was seen as a mistake, only an intermediate phase. Since that time, the early church experience has degenerated into the gnosticism11 that we see today, making it just another myth among many in today's society.
But what we wanted was reality -- to demonstrate love and justice to a dying world. Having eternal life is the only way true love and justice can be demonstrated. Without it, a person can't share a common life with others. It is because they still have their own life, they still have security in their own possessions. This is where wealth comes from -- having security in your possessions. Ask yourself why you have possessions and you'll begin to see what motivates you, where you have your security.12 But without the power to share a common life with others, what else can you do? Everyone has to make a living, to support their families, pay the mortgage, buy food, etc. The tendency to acquire more than you actually need is the essence of living for yourself. We all do it -- it is in human nature. You are not alone. Self-life is the essence of fallen human nature, and this tendency in human nature to look out for yourself by making yourself secure with possessions is the root of injustice. If you have your own possessions, you will be sustained by them instead of being sustained by the life of our Master.
The classic story that our Master told to illustrate this universal truth is the story of the rich young ruler who came to Yahshua asking Him what he must do to inherit eternal life. When our Master told him that he lacked one thing and told him to go and sell his possessions and give them to the poor and then come and follow Him, the rich man hung his head in sadness because he was a man of great wealth.13 What did his response reveal? It showed that he couldn't really do it. He loved his own comfortable life with its acquired possessions more than the eternal life that he thought was important to him. His response was much like ours when we began to see the cost of actually coming together in the '60s.
As you can see from the timeless encounter with a young successful man 2000 years ago, the problem has always been paying the price. Our Master Yahshua spoke words that were hard for the self-satisfied to hear. But the Woodstock Nation wanted to pay the price -- or thought they did. At the root of the Movement was a generation of young people quickened by the injustice they saw, ready to take on the world to change it forever, but who had no notion of the cost to actually bring about a life of love and justice. For those who were willing to pay the price, there was no trustworthy voice to lead them. But now such a voice is being heard and is worth paying attention to because there is a life to back it up. It is the voice of a people living together in a Commonwealth -- the nation that the sincere ones of the Woodstock generation longed for in their hearts.
This life is breaking forth in an entirely new social order14 in which the motivation for all sharing is love. In this new environment, His love can be perfected in the unity of the Spirit.15 His love was that He laid down His life for all of us, and this example compels His disciples to do the same in their relationships with one another. This love is the standard of this new social order. He gave His disciples His life and His Spirit to enable them to demonstrate this love and justice. He had love because He gave up himself. This makes him trustworthy to follow. He is not a hypocrite. What a fantastic act of love He did in allowing us to exchange our life for His. He took our old selfish lives with all its burdens, pain and suffering and gave us His life of love and justice to demonstrate it, proving to the world that this Yahshua is the Messiah and the Savior of all mankind.
This is the Elusive Dream that we didn't find in the 60s. Regrettably the last twenty-five years have seen many of us pursue the dream in a much less dramatic way, travelling down the road of self-help, the quest to perfect human nature by self-effort. This channel has many streams and the one which best suits the individual self is the one taken.
We still believe that love can change the world. Our Master Yahshua is the only hope we have. The life of love that we've found can rekindle that longing in the soul of the Woodstock Nation. It costs everything to find it.16 It began a year or so after Woodstock and it hasn't died out. The flicker17 is becoming a little flame. It will become a raging fire of love. This spark is getting stronger every day, being perfected in the unity we have together as a people. We believe it is the Movement we were all hoping for, and now, twenty-five years later, there's enough evidence to give us the confidence to write proclaim it to you, the remnant of the Woodstock Nation.
What the Israelites fell away from and never attained, what Plato could only write about, what Aristotle could only criticize, what the early church only started, what Karl Marx could only theorize about, what John Lennon could only imagine and what the Woodstock Nation could only hope for, is beginning again in our homes at the addresses below, and this time, if we're faithful, to last forever.
This actual life of justice on earth must be demonstrated in order for our Master Yahshua to return, and to establish His kingdom of heaven on this planet in its fullest expression in the New Age. He will have those who have faithfully followed Him in this age to rule with Him then, reigning in the spirit of justice that He lived and died for so that God's purpose could be satisfied. Is that what your heart still longs to be a part of?