10 January, 2008

Hippie Ideals

"When in the flow of human events it becomes necessary for the people to cease to recognize the obsolete social patterns which have isolated man from his consciousness and to create with the youthful energies of the world revolutionary communities of harmonius relations to which the two-billion-year-old life process entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind should declare the causes which impell them to this creation. We hold these experiences to be self-evident, that all is equal, that the creation endows us with certain inalienable rights, that among these are: the freedom of body, the pursuit of joy, and the expansion of consciousness, and that to secure these rights, we the citizens of the earth declare our love and compassion for all conflicting hate-carrying men and women of the world.

We declare the identity of flesh and consciousness; all reason and law must respect and protect this holy identity."

 - A Prophecy of a Declaration of Independence, Fall 1966

I've never actually considered myself a hippie, despite being sympathetic to their cause and lifestyle ever since discovering them in the course of my fandom of rock from that era (specifically, the late 60's and early 70's). There have even been times when I've felt that I was born too late; that I would have fit in so much better in the [counter-]culture of the 60's. From what I've come to understand, the hippie movement rose to some extent out of the earlier beatnik culture, embracing a more positive outlook on life, and formed a counterculture largely reactionary to the politics of the day, particularly relating to the unpopular Vietnam War. Hippies preached love and peace, and greatly admired their freedom of expression.

Today, the stereotype that prevails is that of the "dirty hippie". Frankly, I think that's an unfortunate stereotype. Just because you have a deeper connection with the earth, or that you let your hair grow long, doesn't mean that you've given up all notions of cleanliness. It's a fact that, at Woodstock, not only were hippies washing themselves in a nearby pool of water - with soap, I might add - but some of them were also shaving - even their armpits! And in spite of all the Rastafarians and Deadheads and generic Gypsies you see these days, it's the groovy people at Woodstock that form the ideal picture of a 'hippie' in my mind.

So what do I get out of hippie idealism? Besides the music, the three main things are peace, love, and freedom.


Now, I don't necessarily consider myself a pacifist. I believe that there are times when violence is warranted. However, I believe that those times are (or at least should be, in a rational society) rare, and extreme. I believe that a lot of people are way more aggressive, in physical and non-physical ways, than they should be. Anger really pisses me off. It's kind of ironic, but it's true. When people start getting mad, the funny thing is, I'm angrier at the fact that these people (especially if I happen to be one of them) have allowed themselves to get to a point where they feel it necessary to resort to this kind of aggressive behaviour, rather than keeping a cool head and being rational about it, than I am about whatever topic the people have gotten angry about. I hate arguments - I think they're utterly pointless, and serve only to damage the relations between people. You can have rational discussions, and you can agree to disagree, but if you get two people shouting at each other because they each want the other to do or think in their own way, then you've already lost sight of what's important.

People often say I'm a pretty groovy person - in terms of being relaxed and chilled out a lot. Part of that is because I'm pretty timid, and it's not natural for me to express myself and my thoughts and beliefs over other people's. I like to avoid confrontation by letting things be. But if part of that is fear of agression, I'd like to think that part of it is the knowledge of how little aggression usually accomplishes - or the fact that when it accomplishes something, it tends to accomplish the opposite of what I consider to be important in life. Maybe other people put a premium on power and coercion and control, but I'm more interested in mutual understanding and respect. And aggression never accomplishes that.

So chill out, live and let live, and expend your energy in a more positive way. You'll feel a lot better in the long run.


I believe in love. I believe that loving your fellow man does so much more for both you and him than hating him ever could. There's too much hatred in the world. What's all this fighting about, anyway? Can we for once consider our victims' perspectives and stop being so selfish? Love your enemy as you would your friend.

There's another aspect to the hippie's perspective on love - and that's the sexual angle. This one I'm slightly less aligned with. Hippies were all about free love. There was a great sexual liberation in the 60's, and I'm all for that. But the idea of sharing sex with strangers I'm not so keen on. I understand it can be a great way to connect with people, and promote love. But, particularly with all the complications involved, love can inspire some pretty wicked feelings too. Jealousy, resentment, control, possession, obsession. There is a dark side to love, as much as there is a light side. And then you've gotta worry about pregnancy, as well as diseases.

So in this case, I'd say I'm more on board with the psychological component of promoting love. I still don't think people should be too hung up on the physical aspect of love, but I'm not exactly about to promote having sex with everyone you meet.


Freedom of mind and body. Freedom of expression. Freedom to be yourself. Freedom from the rules of the Establishment. I'm all about freedom. Dress code? Fuck that, I'll go naked if I feel like it. Only girls wear their hair that long? Fuck that, I'll let my hair grow as long as I want. You can't do or say or think or feel this or that? Fuck you, I am who I am and I'm gonna embrace that, not hide away from it, locking myself up into a rigid shape of a man that's been defined for me by an inanimate entity (the Establishment) that doesn't know a single thing about me, and cares only to further its own cause. If you really gave a damn for me, I'd be more willing to listen to your suggestions, but if that were the case, you'd understand that restricting me from expressing the things that are important to me is tantamount to slavery of the soul. And there's no way I'm gonna stand for that!


(This discussion is continued in the following entry titled "Drugs")

1 comment:

  1. When I was in middle school and highschool listening to Classic Rock LOTS of people would say "Doug, you were born too late, you have the soul of a 40 year old" or variations on that theme. And I'm not sure if it was the music I listened to or the fact that I appear to be a laid-back-as-fuck do-what-you-want-it-doesn't-matter kind of guy, or a combination therein. But I never really agreed with them. But then in college I saw a documentary about drugs and hippies one night and I realized that the tides had changed, and that I would be more than perfect for living in the Haight summer of love. I mean, before I wasn't hardcore enough, ya know? But now I feel like it's a tragedy that I'll never get to experience the hippie counter-culture, because it's basically everything that I want to experience. The Haight got pretty rough what with people not having food, but it's not like I'd mind not eating. Plus all the free love that I feel is so very central to the accurate human experience. Plus all the drugs... and LSD is legal. I think... Anyway, it's a damn shame I'll never be able to go there and do all that stuff. Lately I've come to refer to myself (to myself) as "the death metal hippie." Also gotta throw props to Charlie and to Timothy Leary, true masters of thought and function.