The hippies got it right

If you’re old enough to remember the 1960s, you remember the hippies and the whole peace-and-love vibe that permeated their subculture. Do you remember Woodstock and Jimi Hendrix? Bell-bottoms and tie-dye? Feelin’ groovy? Okay, maybe “drop acid, not bombs” had some inherent flaws as a slogan, but not many could argue with “make love, not war.”

The hippies were right about a great many things, but most people thought they were pretty “radical” back in the day. So the yuppies – young urban professionals – eventually had the bigger influence on society.

  • Hippies ate low on the food chain, and many of them were vegetarians. They often brewed their own beer, made their own wine, and raised their own vegetables- and they favored organic produce and whole grains. Yuppies asked “Where’s the beef?” and destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of rain forest for cattle grazing.
  • Hippies promoted communal living, food co-ops, and small, local businesses. Anti-establishment, anti-corporation, anti-government – they denounced exploitive greed, wealth, and power. Yuppies invented McMansions, malls, big-box stores, and hedge-funds. Oh, and automated voice mail.
  • Hippies favored natural fiber clothing and furnishings. Yuppies invented plastic, polyester, and every other non-biodegradable product made from petroleum.
  • The hippies advocated chemical-free cleaning products, pesticides, and fertilizers. They were recyclers, composters, and rainwater collectors. The yuppies bought stock in Dow Chemical and BASF.
  • Hippies marched for religious freedom, sexual freedom, women’s liberation, and civil rights. (C’mon people now…smile on your brother!) Yuppies believed that every institution from the Country Club to their off-springs’ private school should be “exclusive.”
  • Hippies dared to protest war. Peace – what a concept! (Imagine.) Yuppies financially backed any endeavor that would put dividends into their stock portfolios – including war.

Yuppies were all about ladder climbing, “impressive” career paths, six-figure salaries, competitive consumption, and More Is Better. Unfortunately, they ultimately set the so-called “standards” for the Baby Boomer generation while the hippies all but faded away.

I think we should consider bringing them back. We don’t have to tie on paisley head scarves and smoke pot and drive VW vans to emulate many of the wise examples set by the hippies. Instead of allowing the next generation to hang out at the mall, let’s give them guitars and teach them the chords to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” Let’s plant some sprouts on our windowsills, throw out all our polyester jersey, and let it mellow if it’s yellow.

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

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