Until last night, I’ve always had a very limited picture of the 1960s in my head. I was born in 1967, so I really don’t remember the sixties at all. The images in my head are from home movies and the way things were portrayed in the Kennedy era or through reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show. The fashion was mod, and I love the retro style that Mary Tyler Moore and Twiggy wore. I didn’t really think of the sixties as the revolution that it really was. I mean, it was more than just a psychedelic fashion — it became a subculture.
Last night Tom and I watched a program on the hippies of the sixties. A quick history — it all started in the mid-1960s in San Francisco and moved throughout the world in other major cities, like New York and London. The hippies were teenagers who used drugs, especially LSD and weed to attain an altered state of mind. Their philosophy was love, peace and community — basically the idea of creating a socialistic society the way they saw it. They had no authority, no rules and no responsibilities. Imagine that. The hippie movement of the sixties started the sexual revolution with 1967 being called, “the Summer of Love,” where teenagers could basically make love to whomever they wanted without recourse. They were looking for a higher level of spirituality, yet not in religions with morals and values — as those went out the window with their rules. I’m guessing if you’re higher than a kite, you’re finding all kinds of “spirituality.”
Besides peace, love, communal living, and an altered state of mind, part of this subculture was to bring awareness to protecting Mother Earth. I look at the trash the hippies left behind in Golden Gate Park in January of 1967, before “the Summer of Love,” and it sickened me. It was more than piggish — it was disrespectful to the earth. And the same thing for Woodstock that came only a couple of years later. The trash left behind was appalling. And then I remember that it was a movement by a bunch of kids. No authority, no rules and no responsibilities. But I guess it sounded good to say they respected the earth. Oh, and to think of all those thousands of sweating people — half naked and filthy with strong body odor and sewer stench —drinking and doing drugs — the filth and the disease — both Tom and I found it absolutely repulsive.
I can see why my parents didn’t think highly of the hippy generation. And by the way, where were these kids parents?
Was there good that came out of it? I do like the music of the sixties and seventies. I like that it really did influence clothing trends — opening a new world of fashion more than ever. Was that generation really empowered? I’m sure they approached problem-solving very differently after that experience. Could I have sat in Golden Gate park, completely naked, making a spectacle of myself openly on the lawn? Not in a million years. And would I judge this today? I just did.
So let’s flash forward to 2015 — about 50 years after the influence of the sixties. These hippies would now likely be in their 70s — some of them part of the baby boomer generation. It’s amazing to think about the comparison of the hippies and the “millennials” of today. Many of today’s teenagers are anti-social, hiding behind the technology that was the vision of the hippy generation. Many of them don’t communicate and the idea of living in a commune would probably make them more than uncomfortable. Their thoughts and feelings become public knowledge through online news feeds. I guess it’s just a different kind of community. But I do believe many teenagers are more empowered today than they ever were. They’re smarter, sharper — they know what they want out of life — and what they don’t. My nieces are more social than I ever was. And I love that they live by their faith — what strength that is!
The 1960s tested my morals and values above all, which is why I am not a big fan of the sixties subculture for sure. But for me, I’m just looking in from the outside, not have ever been exposed to what the movement really was (or anything even remotely close to it). But with that movement came the belief that maybe things could be looked at differently. What I believe today — to be able to do anything I want if I just have faith and hard work — may not be the case without the sixties revolution. Who knows. I just know if I had the opportunity to experience the sixties in my own life now — or to go back in time — I would politely decline.
Always B E L I E V E !