This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival held on a farm in Bethel, New York. It was a mess. The promoters under-predicted attendance and were unprepared to feed and provide sanitation and medical care for 400,000. Vehicles choked local roadways, drugs and sex were everywhere. Yet, there was no violence. People looked out for and helped one another.
The residents of Bethel, initially opposed to the event, ultimately welcomed the outsiders and donated food when they learned of shortages. Max Yasgur, owner of the farm whose fields of green became mud, praised the “kids” for their peacefulness. What began as a purely capitalist venture became a financial loser, but also a symbol of peace and cooperation. Flawed as it was, we can still be moved and inspired by so many strangers coming together to help and care for each other.