Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Where have all the hippies gone?
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 Love is out of date.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.