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I think I want the hippies back. I look around at the culture today and I can't help thinking that all in all, the hippies had some better ideas about a few things. I was never a hippie, for one thing, I was a little too young to be a love child, and secondly, not by nature very good at going along with any group whole-heartedly. I don't have what it takes to be a successful ideologue. All I know for sure is that I believe I liked the “love, peace & joy” vision more than the “me, me, me & greed is good” vision. I'm speaking only for myself, of course. The “me, me” crowd would definitely not agree.
A young woman I work with said to me the other day that from her perspective, my generation of young people had been very angry. I realized that she was right. We were angry. We were angry about a wretched, stupid war, we were angry about the draft, we were angry about civil rights, we were angry about the military industrial complex that profited and was fueled by the deaths of our friends, we were angry about the inequality of women, we were angry about the growing corporate mentality and the cultural shift that condemned individualism, and we were angry because national figures we admired seemed to be assassinated with frightening regularity. She was right...we were pretty angry.
The reality is, however, that we were angry about some important and meaningful things. We weren't angry because someone was trying to stop us from downloading catchy tunes or forcing us to play our video games on the cloud. We weren't angry because our cell phone provider wasn't giving us enough bars to text our friends wherever and whenever we wanted about meaningless hooha. We weren't angry because our favorite reality TV stars didn't make the cut. We weren't angry because we were not being entertained enough or forced to deny ourselves something.
It is rather sad that the love and peace generation became the parents of the me generation. Maybe it is proof that human beings are incapable of holding on to any philosophy for long that isn't centered on goals fueled by greed and a lust for power and overwhelming self-interest. Hippie communes and rejection of the material world only lasted about 20 years give or take. There were tons of sell outs in the end. It can be claimed, with a large degree of provable certainty, that we are a sadly weak species and that history, while less than interesting to many people, is a thing that certainly seems to repeat itself.
I was reading the other day that in 1972 if a single woman had a career with a good income, she still could not get a mortgage for a home from most banks unless she had a male co-signer. This is a true fact. A woman's education, career, or earning power were secondary to the fact that she was a woman and therefore, unfit to handle her own finances responsibly. There were lots of women who fought hard to change that kind of thing and achieve social equality for other women. In my memory they were often hated, called horrible names, made fun of, and generally vilified by a large portion of society. But it is because of them that women today are able to do the things that some of them are doing. It is because of them that women can be scientists, astronauts, politicians, heads of companies, and a lot of other things previously denied to them. Young women today should be grateful to those angry women, but I doubt that they are. Instead, I sit in horror at a friend's house and watch a video of a group of girls screaming their worship at some reality star woman with no recognizable talent or ability I can discern, completely unimpressive cognitive powers, who makes no positive contribution to society or her gender, and appears to mostly run around with lots of money behaving like some soulless tart. She is their hero? Their role model? This is why those angry women fought so hard to free other women from the cultural restraints and prejudices that held them back? So they could become this? What a bummer.
Oh well, human beings are silly creatures I guess. It reminds me of the story of the animals in zoos who have been kept in small cages all their lives and are suddenly provided with a better environment. Some of them were thrilled, some of them refused to leave the cages where they had been confined for so long out of fear, and some of them left their cages and proceeded to go crazy and behave rather badly. Some people, if you give them an inch, will build something amazing out of it. Others, if you give them an inch will take a ridiculous mile and run around in it like idiots. Some people wouldn't know a good inch if you hit them over the head with a ruler. What can you do?
Personally, I wouldn't mind a few protest songs instead of songs about serial partying. Some war protesting might be nice. A few angry people might not go amiss either.
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