Why The World Needs Hippies: A Sociological Commentary About Generations Past and Present
I will never forget my boomer parents. I had very young parents, my father that ran off to Haight-Ashbury. My Mom was left to raise me in Venice, California. I was surrounded at all times by the boomer generation. My mother was 17 when she had me, so I was at her high school graduation. As a child, I watched all the news on the television from the kidnapping of Patty Hearst to Wallace being shot, I was around for the "gas shortage". I heard the laments of my grandparents, although they were for the most part open-minded as they were poor, working class people. My grandfather brought my mother to her first NOW (National Organization for Women) meeting in the late 60’s. He wanted my mother to have a future besides childrearing. I grew up with my mother going to Jimi Hendrix concerts, going to visit my father in the Bay Area and seeing his hippy lifestyle. Eventually he settled in Marin County, which prior to the yuppies in the 80’s was all hippies. I remember him raising chickens in a coop in his backyard in San Anselmo. But what I loved about these people was their passion and the things that mattered. I have a half-brother that was a baby that actually made it to the Woodstock movie. His mother looked like she was maybe 15. We had different Mothers, my Dad got around. My brother was raised in a commune.
But the thing was that I grew up with them. My dad being 18 years older then I was and my mother 17. I saw the world. I saw Vietnam, Watergate, protests. The thing is that they younger generations missed all of this. My generation, known as the “Tweeners” in pop literature, were the generation that saw both sides. We saw the passion and activism of the late 60’s through 70’s. We saw how people changed. By the time we hit the 80’s, it was all about materialism and people forgot that they used to care.
As an adult, I watched both of my parents, passionate in their own ways and their reactions to the times. I carried that in my soul to adulthood. When I got past the selfish and self-absorbed times of teens to young adult I began to reflect on the world. People didn’t care anymore, they weren’t passionate about the planet and they literally didn’t care about politics and there seemed to be a dumbing down of society. Where the former students in colleges were informed, we had the millennium generations that generally cared only about themselves and their cell phones. If the environment was being destroyed, they could care less. If people were dying of starvation, it was their own fault. They have very little empathy, there has been psychological testing done on this age group and they are said to have the least amount of empathy of any generation before them and I would go further to say that they can at times just be incredibly apathetic and self –absorbed generally speaking.
The boomers got older, yet their generation is the one that I relate to the most and the things they had to say and their wisdom. Because now, not only do they have the caring aspect, they also have the wisdom. One of the reasons I like Bernie Sanders so much as a presidential candidate is that he is a boomer from that generation and was someone that had the passion back in the day and still does even in his seventies.
We need people that are in the X and Y generations to wake up. To care, to be passionate and look at the world around them. The techniques to raise children have also developed this lack of empathy and self-absorption. With helicopter parents for the Middle Class and above children of these generations the world of hard knocks, which taught Tweeners and older generations that the world is not fair and you have to fight, you have to get over the hard hurdles in life to build some character, is lacking in some of the young people of today.
The world needs another generation of hippies. They need activists who listen to the wisdom of the boomer generation and finds that passion within themselves. I was a lucky individual to see this in my parents and learn from it. I care a great deal about things going on around me for my fellow human beings, for other species, for the environment and for future generations. I am filled with empathy, sometimes too much empathy for my own good. We need this in the world and we need it in the younger generation.
In this world now, we need the people like Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon, John F. Kennedy and all the other leaders that led the young people to protest and wanted peace in the world and for all human beings to be worth something. We need leaders for these young people to be examples for how things used to be long before they were born. They don’t have a clue how things were. I still listen to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; I listen to all the old music and to the musicians that had this kind of passion. I can’t even connect to the music that has come about in the last 10 years. I has no meaning, no depth, it is insignificant. The pop music all sounds the same with usually meaningless lyrics. How can people walk around with nothing of substance in their heads? For many of the millennium generation it is all “me, me, me.” It is horrific to watch.
I know this article may appear agist. But as an individual who attended a University, worked at the transcripts department of the University and got to be around the "traditional" students as a "non-traditional" student, I must say I felt worried about the future. I am still agast at the students who would come to the customer service window for their transcripts that were in their mid-twenties and not speak a word as their parent talked to me instead. The student would never say a word. As a substitute teacher that goes around to all the schools and sees the impact of modern society on education I am also greatly concerned, as well as how things have changed and not for the better.
I know not all of the boomer generation consisted of hippies, but that is the crowd I was around growing up. I grew up in California, a little different then most places. But it was a wonderful time period, a marvelous time period that the X and Y generations really have no reference point for or experience with.
I may also add that the current president of the United States is not a boomer, he is a tweener, he is in my age group. Tweener is a relatively new word, so my age group was previously considered boomers. There weren't as many of us as far as generations go.
Another disclaimer that I make is that I found some hope in the Occupy Movement. I saw with the Occupy Movement some hope that some people gave a damn. I saw some Boomers mixed in with young people and it made me have tears of joy. However, where it had such a great impact as to make Time Magazine's Man of the Year (the generic protestor), it never got organized into a political party or anything of that nature. But I was hopeful when the young people started to care.
My own children are so disenfranchised a son of 27 and daughter of 22 and so unhappy with the government, they just hate all government. My daughter considers herself an anarchist. This I find alarming, but maybe that is because they are left with less hopes of any generation and are suffering the consequences of an ecomony and job market that totally fell apart. I have never seen kids work so hard to make so little money. But they do work hard, but they have little hope of buying a house, they are afraid of student loan debt after watching me accrue it after all these years and their quality of life is much less then that of the boomers or even the tweeners. I worry for the future and for the future of my grandchildren.
What can we do to get back to how things were when people gave a damn? What has to happen, I just want to shout “WAKE UP!!!!” at people sometimes. But this is why I feel we need hippies in the world again. I was raised in a non-conventional way, but I would not trade my childhood in for anything. I am glad for the person I became because of this. I hope and pray the human race will wake up from the slumber it has been in the last three generations. Let’s wake up and fight and try to change the world like the boomer generation did. We need to before it is too late. I listen to the Grateful Dead Truckin' as I submit this article and only wish that this generation would re-emerge or maybe the the sleeping generations will.