Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Where have all the hippies gone?

I listened to Jefferson Airplane's Crown of Creation this morning, and I cried for the idealistic, passionate youth I used to be. I wonder what happened to my old friends, scattered now? Does anyone know Carol Shumacher? Did she kill herself with alcohol and drugs, or did she somehow morph into a suburban working mom and is she living now somewhere on the west coast, dreaming of retirement like I am?

What happened to us, Carol? Where did our hope and bursting creativity go? Why did that boomer generation, who dove into psychedelics and community and who could envision a future of love and peace, why did we lose our steam? Was it the end of the war and the draft? Partly, but it was also a tidal wave of consumerism and soft pressure from dominator interests.

By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong, and everywhere there was song and celebration!

Half a million strong? No wonder we had to be silenced! Song and celebration? Happy people are powerful people. Satisfied people don't buy consumer goods. Joy mitigates the fear that enables us to condone war. For the same reasons they have to silence the wise plants today, by 1971, the dominators knew that the hippies had to go. The Kent State shootings showed that hard power would have repercussions, but the dominators had been increasing their ability to utilize soft power, and it was easy, when the time came, to destroy the hippie movement using alternative means.

With a little help from their friends on Madison Avenue, the dominators were easily able to convert our dissent into fashion and our ideals into consumer goods. Tempting us with SUVs and techno-toys, aggressively marketing selfishness, and marginalizing or pathologizing our spirituality, they pressed hard on the hippie movement until there was nothing left but mythologies. When I ask my middle school students what the hippies were all about, they say, "Hippies took drugs, right?" Right. Love? Peace? "I dunno," they say. "They wore bell-bottoms, right?"

Love and peace are words that now invoke disgust and condescension in my students. They're soft stuff. Violence is in fashion. Love is out of date. War doesn't touch them, so they don't much care. Community means a big friends list on facebook. Sure, I'm sad about it. But do we old hippies have to bow down to the "establishment" anymore?

Why can't we remember our dreams and start talking about love and peace again? Why not start a commune . . . it's cheaper than all of us paying rent? Why not return to the wisdom of the wise plants, love more than one person, explore, expand our minds, turn on, tune in and DROP OUT of the dominator culture? Aw, c'mon . . . let's get together at my house tonight. Bring your guitars and I'll bake a carrot cake.


Elisheva said...

No don't loose heart, only if it draws you deeper back to it again from your questions. What a wonderful generation it was back in woodstock, How I would have loved to experience that. But this generation, not your students by the sounds of things) are waking up too, all over the place, in different ways....... an understanding that beauty happens in the darkest corner is being understood, its a way of seeing.
The shadow side has always been to make the bright brighter. How will that change? I have no idea, but somehow we continue to trust and do what we know to be sacred. Its confusing at times to be in this culture though I have just read a few of your blogs for the first time and see what a shiny bright one you are. Thank you Thank you xxx

Anonymous said...

If I wasn't so far away I'd be one of the first persons at your door bringing gifts of wine, love, laughter, and friendship. I was born after the hippie generation but a part of me has actually misses it (as strange as that may sound).

puny human said...

Doesn't sound strange to me at all. I often feel like I was born out of time. So, if you're ever in upstate NY, come on by. There's a candle in the window. Puny