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Crossposted from Docudharma.

This diary grew out of a comment in The Dream Before the Awakening.  
The comment was:

Do we really need more hippies?

You can shut out the world for the sake of achieving inner peace or whatever. It's crazy to pretend, though, that if you get others to join you, the fundamental problems facing our future will go away.

I want to ask people to get engineering degrees, to become doctors, to learn the law, to learn about climate science - and to use this information to do good. Iin this world we need more Jane Goodalls and Barack Obamas, not George Harrisons.

So this person managed to diss inner peace, hippies, musicians and George Harrison all in one fell swoop.  And of course, the message of that diary was never that we needed more hippies anyway...but now that the topic has been raised, the fact is we definitely do.  It takes all kinds as my momma used to say, but more hippies sure wouldn’t hurt.  We would be SO much better off if we had allowed their wisdom to flourish back in the 60s – rather than allowing it to be repressed and killed off...which is what actually happened.

If we are to speak of hippies intelligently, we must first dispense with common misconceptions.

First of all, the stereotype for hippies is about as reliable as the stereotype for any other people, that is to say not at all.  Hippie culture was never monolithic.  It encompassed well over half of every kind of kid there was in the late 60s and early 70s, and spanned every socio-economic strata of American society.  If you weren’t a hippie in those days, what you know and think about hippies is probably wrong.  It’s not your fault.  The media has distorted the reality as a part of the conservative culture wars.  They are, and have always been, threatened by hippies who never had any trouble seeing straight through them and who consistently called them on their bullshit.  Progressivism (or enlightened thinking), started well before the age of the hippies, but for that one seminal decade, hippies were its natural home (though not exclusively of course).

* * *

The idea was to be a good and decent person, an authentic person, a person unlike those who thought it was okay to drop bombs on people.

* * *

If you were between the ages of 15 and 30 between 1965 and 1975, and you were smart and had a soul, you were most likely a hippie.

* * *

The hippies I knew and respected most were among the most serious people I would ever meet.  They were radically curious and unwilling to accept false or facile answers to tough questions.  We were very serious young people who took our responsibility to understand the world accurately and to act upon it in a profoundly positive way very seriously indeed - much more seriously than a majority of our non-hippie peers I dare say.

But mostly we were brothers and sisters embracing an ethic of gentleness and kindness, and who felt a deeply human and humane connection to one another.  My closest friends, hippies all (or freaks as we came to call ourselves), as I look back on them in all their joyful idealism, were among the noblest creatures to ever grace this planet.

In Defense of Hippies

There is also the fact that being a hippie does not preclude one from being a scientist (many are) or anything else much...except maybe a republican (Jerry Rubin being a possible exception...or maybe he’s just batshit crazy).  :-)

The fact is some of our best scientists have been hippies.  Nobel Prize winning physicist, Richard Feynman frolicked naked at Esalen, experimented with LSD and smoked pot and did ketamine with John Lilly, the dolphin dude.

Feynman and Nanotechnology


Feynman ain’t no hippie you might be thinking.  Think again.

Feynman needs him some orange juice.

Feynman was undeniably one of the finest minds of our era.  It can even be argued that one of his most famous professors, one Albert Einstein, was a bit of a proto-hippie himself.  


Then there was that outlaw hippie and notorious pothead, Carl Sagan.  How much poorer we would have been without him.  His wisdom and insight speak to us even now some 12 years after his death.

Carl Sagan - Cosmos Intro

Sagan’s brilliant Pale Blue Dot

Which brings me to musicians.  Is it fair to dismiss what they bring to the rest of us because it is more ephemeral than bridges, buildings or technology?  Are we not all affected, uplifted, inspired, soothed, made thoughtful, joyful or blissful by music at some point in our passage through this vale of tears?  Are there people immune to the magic of a joyful sound?  I know that I would take nothing for the gifts given to me by George Harrison and thousands of other wonderful musicians in the course of my passage.  What they have given me is beyond measure and beyond value.  I have nothing but love, respect and reverence for these fortunate ones blessed with the gift of music, and I will be forever grateful for their having shared their gifts with me.  

I could go on and on about all of the wonderful personalities, all the brilliant minds and all the great souls that can be found in the hippie universe, but perhaps I’ve made my point.

I close with the wondrous George Harrison and a few of his pals.

My back pages – Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Neil Young, Tom Petty and Roger McGuinn



Thank you George for all you added to my life.


Originally posted to One Pissed Off Liberal on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 03:01 PM PST.

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