Thursday, October 16, 2008

What is a hippie?

As a younger guy, I was not alive during the prime of the hippie movement. I have studied it extensively and broke the whole movement down to a few main characteristics.

The main characteristics of a hippie are:

Personal Freedom--This appears to be the main driving characteristic of the hippie movement. The hippies fought any type of social restrictions or control. This overriding characteristic is the basis for some of the other characteristics. The iconic drug use of hippies was a combination of seeking personal freedom and experimentation and was more of a result of these two fundamental characteristics.

Pacifism--I don't believe the hippie movement was a result of a widespread anti-war sentiment. With it's beginnings in the 1950's, the Vietnam War appears to be a rallying cry for a people who believe in live and let live rather than a massive anti-war sentiment. In pop culture, the hippies are usually shown to be anti-war, but the primary characteristic here is let people live and figure things out on their own through personal freedom.

Love--Free love was an icon of the hippie movement. The natural state of human beings is to love and care for each other. The sex was a result of personal freedom, rebellion and allowing themselves to experiment. The underlying characteristic is that people "love thy neighbor." Once you get rid of rules, prejudices, and irrational hatred, the "live and let live" crowd will naturally love the people around them.

Community--A strong community comes from love. If you love the people around you, they love the people around them, you start to develop a caring and compassionate society and community. Personal freedom allows people to take care of themselves while looking out for others.

Change--The natural human condition strives for change and to improve things around them. Every day, people think of new ways to improve themselves which is positive change. Humans desire more and more freedom until the point they are completely free of all societal restrictions. Change also links up with the fundamental hippie belief in experimentation.

Experimentation--A very unique and admirable characteristic of hippies. To learn, develop and grow as a person, one must try new things. Some fail, others are just a different way to do things and some even succeed. In all cases, information is learned and lessons can be applied to future experimentation. Hippies took a lot of flak from "the man" because of experimentation with drugs and sex, but from that experimentation, we have learned there are worse drugs than others and have been able to put together informational lessons for people looking to do drugs in the future. By getting things in the open, we are allowed to learn lessons and come up with a stronger society than if we just sweep things under the rug. Sex is the same way. Yes, there are drawbacks to having early sex in life, but experimenting and learning is much better than putting heads in the sand and pretending people aren't ever going to try sex.

Environmentalism--This is our only planet. If people want to ruin the environment, move to Mars for a couple years and tell me how that works out for you. The hippie movement believed very strongly in environmentalism and protecting our earth. The movement has made tremendous strides in protecting the Earth and helping others become aware of our impact on our shared home.

Music--I'm sure this is a result of underlying characteristics of hippies, but it is a main icon of the entire hippie movement. Woodstock defined the hippies, so this would be a meaningless article if I left music out. Music brings the entire hippie "platform" together. Music is an expression of personal freedoms and preferences, you can experiment tremendously with music and the arts. You can express your beliefs (such as pacifism, value of the environment, love, change, community, etc). Prior to the 1960's, people shared beliefs by talking or writing. The hippie movement made it possible to express one's self through music, which enabled messages to become more personal and intimate.

By studying the beliefs and the messages of the hippies, one can begin to search the country (and world, for that matter) to find out where the hippies are today.

My next post will begin this search to find who Today's Hippies are.

No comments: