Why I’ll be a Hippie Forever
Urban Dictionary definition: Hippies possess a core belief set revolving around the values of peace and love as being essential in an increasingly globalized society, and they are oftentimes associated with non-violent anti-governmental groups.
“When we heard about the hippies, the barely more than boys and girls who decided to try something different…we laughed at them. We condemned them, our children, for seeking a different future. We hated them for their flowers, for their love, and for their unmistakeable rejection of every hideous, mistaken compromise that we had made throughout our hollow, money-bitten, frightened, adult lives.” Author June Jordan, an American poet from my parent’s generation.
Did you notice how June Jordan included both hate and love in her statement about hippies? Like shadow and light, hate and love are interwoven, a mirroring of each other from a dualist perspective.
Our lives are not about creating a fantasy land of utopian bliss. It will never happen. Nor are they about subjecting yourself to endless doses of toxic exposure, stoking anger, fear or despair. There’s a middle ground, holding the possibility of balance and peace.
I was born in 1951 on the West coast of the U.S., a well-timed entry point for the future flower child I became in the mid 60’s. I had seven older siblings. One of them became a beatnik when I was in my early teens and he pre paved my path as a protestor.
I burned bras for women’s rights and joined peace marches for civil rights. A lot of young people were fed up with the establishment’s narrow definitions of a ‘normal’ life course.
I was passionate, still am, full of spit and vinegar then, now a bit mellowed out. I earned one of my nicknames, Firecracker, for a reason. I pumped my fist toward the sky, lost in the crowd of righteous ones, when Jerry Rubin advised us not to trust anyone over 30. Thirty was ancient, after all. What did anyone in that age group and beyond know about the ‘real’ issues in life?
Is any of this sounding familiar, right here and now in 2020? There is a certain truth to cycles in history repeating themselves endlessly. If you live long enough, you will see this play out in slightly altered forms, unfortunately circling around the same issues.
Women remain undervalued and underpaid. We merit a 5-star review and substantial reimbursements for emotional labor alone. Racism remains an ugly presence, streaming through each strata of our society and evident in every world culture. Did we learn anything from the Civil Rights riots in the 60’s and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968?
Worldwide immigration and cross-cultural relationships are creating a racial blending that will eventually eliminate every outdated stereotype and belief we now carry, like the burden it is. We could choose to open our eyes and allow ourselves to realize what is right in front of our faces.
Why is change so damn scary for us? Change is the only constant factor in our lives. Wake up one morning feeling perky and on top of the world. The next day, you feel like crap and have no idea why. It could be biorhythms, a bad dream, perhaps an illness coming on. It’s a crapshoot, depending on how the wheel spins and what’s delivered down your path.
One thing that has not changed in my life however, is my belief that violence begets violence. It is not the path to realized change. Not to say I haven’t felt and expressed my share of anger. But I sought and found inspiration in others, including world leaders such as the Dalai Lama. His life is a graphic example of the rugged road traveled toward the goal of unification and peace. Forced to flee his homeland, in order to save his life, he turned around and created a new community in India for Tibetan refugees.
He continues to create and present workable, peaceful proposals, hoping to halt the cultural genocide, still taking place in Tibet today. He activates compassion and empathy, counseling temperance from the middle path. He became a world leader by walking his talk, providing a role model for non-violent action with stunning, positive results. Such is the force of well-aimed light.
I grew up in a town created by the U.S. government to manufacture plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan during WWII. Many people still believe the bomb was the only solution to ending the war. I would advise anyone still holding that belief to watch live footage of what happened as all those innocent people caught on fire and their world disintegrated. I did and I will never forget the horrific images.
We have ignorant world ‘leaders’ playing childish, highly dangerous games. My bomb is bigger than yours recently became an issue on the world stage, between N. Korea and the U.S and it will again. Atomic bomb supporters and hot-headed humans lacking impulse control are not leaders and never have been. They are individuals, arrested in adolescence, unable to mature. They are in serious need of restraint, as well as psychological counseling for lack of impulse control and malignant, narcissistic syndrome. They demonstrate the shadow at work.
I live part-time in Seattle where a protest zone-CHOP- has been created in a neighborhood bordering downtown. It was peaceful in the beginning, before tear gas and rubber bullet grenades started being lobbied by police into the crowd.
Last Saturday morning a 19 year old man was gunned down simply standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. I read his girlfriend and friend’s recall of his life, without a chance to bloom. All of them said Horace Lorenzo Anderson Jr. just wanted ‘to be loved’.
WE ALL WANT TO BE LOVED FOR WHO WE ARE
As I read, I reeled back in time, remembering the student protests at Kent State University in 1970. What started out peacefully turned into a nightmare as the Ohio National Guard opened fire, killing four and wounding nine unarmed students.
It’s extremely challenging to keep a protest peaceful. Agitated humans are not prone to reason. A protest can be a launching pad for professional agitators. They infiltrate, flaring up the crowd, inciting rage, looting and destroying property, all under the guise of contributing to the cause. The CHOP zone now has a dedicated crew, on the lookout for those up to no good. They surround and forcibly remove these individuals from the zone.
Protests can be very powerful if they remain united in their cause. They certainly helped my generation, getting our friends the hell out of Vietnam. A country we didn’t have any right to invade in the first place. I hit the streets on that one. All of the protests I marched in were effective in their statement and peaceful in the process. I believe one of the reasons was due to the prominent hippie subculture.
Hippies were stigmatized early on as hallucinogenic drug users, pot addicts, and sex fiends. A lot of us, myself included, did experiment with LSD and other mind-altering drugs, but very few became addicted or unstable as a result of our journeys beyond the veil. A trip into Wonderland rarely incites violence, but often offers up a larger perspective than one’s own limited beliefs and values.
I was a global traveler for 16 years during the 70’s and 80’s. I went off the beaten path and saw events many people might not experience in their lifetimes. I witnessed a man shot in the arm for stealing a tomato in an open, crowded market in Peshawar, Pakistan in 1973. It was a tribally governed territory with no police or government jurisdiction. The majority of men carried rifles and used them randomly.
This incident alone, convinced me personal armaments, are not and have never been, a solution to conflict. But defund the police, no thanks, unless you want to hang out in tribal zones. Educate and reform the police, YES!
We can become the change we wish to see through individual, as well as group, action. I look into the eyes of each person I encounter, searching for your light. I believe you will not harm me, unless my body warns me otherwise. I give you the benefit of the doubt and keep my mind open to your story. This attitude often allows me to flow more resiliently through what arises in life.
How can we influence the actions of others without a clue to our own selves? This mature hippie has been on one wild ride in her 69 years. I got on the carousel of peace and love, in conjunction with taking a relentless look at my own shadow and never got off. I’ve hurt others, both intentionally and unconsciously, but I learned from pain and began mopping up my own interior. That job never stops.
Self-investigation can be a taxing project. You might discover you are not a gift to humanity all the time yourself. It’s even more difficult to evoke compassion when you’re running on the empty fumes of hate, bigotry, racism, and violence.
IT’S THE POWER OF LOVE GENERATING OUR BEING
BROTHERS AND SISTERS, try opening your hearts to yourselves, no matter how you’ve been treated by life. Find one thing you like about yourself and go from there.
We cannot fully understand someone else’s life. We are not living in their skin. One thing we can do is start fully appreciating our own breath of life.
We all suffer and somehow, a lot of us survive to tell our tale. Others are not so fortunate. Our power lies in sharing who we are and what has formed us.
With peace, love, and respect for your path, your forever Hippie friend.