Saturday, June 9, 2018


What does the word hippy mean to you? For many boomers, it is a reminder of a better time. Hippies were the forefront of great change. We were very naive. The word hippy is somewhat odd and old-fashioned now but it had enormous energy in the mid to late sixties. The word and the concept carried with it the impact of colossal social change as well as an extensive shift in public decency and knowledge. So, while this was often a time of a bit of discomfort for the baby boomer generation, it is also a part of our story and deserves respect for that reason.
I was not a hippy, but I had a few friends that embraced that lifestyle. As is often the case, the hippie movement was something that got tremendous media coverage but it represented only a small portion of the baby boomer population at the time. Very few of our age actually joined the “tune in, drop out, turn on” society. Hippies were seen as colourful, eccentric, flamboyant and immoral, they aroused public concern. Any time there was a public display the public media covered the event because they thought it might be a hippie gathering.
The hippies were a small minority, but they did change society because the hippies were white, middle-class children who were rejecting their parent's lifestyle. Part of the rejection was a discontent with the Vietnam War. Many hippies embraced the antiwar movement. Over a few short months, the two blended to where there was virtually no distinction. These changes in youth culture were brought on by the eruption of new music and changes in lifestyle. We thought a new worldview was emerging and we saw the leaders in the rock music world being seen as cultural leaders. All of this combined in our minds enough for us to see the hippie movement as a shift of our social values from the previous generation.
While on the surface we now associate hippies with drug use and free love (e.g. sex), the actual movement itself was grounded in a tremendous sense of value, morality and social responsibility.
The youth movement at the time held a mirror up to society and demanded we look. Moreover, for the first time ever, it held public figures accountable for actions that were taken that harmed the public good. Too bad, we as seniors have not continued that focus on holding government and its officials responsible. Holding people accountable is a good thing and one that hippies gave us and one we gave away.
There was a strong thread of ethics and philosophy in the hippie social system that, while different from what previous generations were used to, it was grounded in a fervent love and sense of right and wrong. Hippies did not reject the values of their parents but they and others who wanted change were bold and determined in their enthusiasm to put themselves on the line to see their values translated into government policy. 

Because the youth movement was so willing to demonstrate and make extraordinary and colourful public statements to emphasize their political, ethical or moral outrage, things changed in a way that the country had never seen before.
The youth movement of the sixties gave the power for change into the hands of the ordinary men and women. This is something we can be thankful that the hippie movement started. It is time for my generation to remember this legacy.

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