where have all the hippies gone?

on a pretty regular basis, i hear older folks make comments about growing up in the 60’s and how they took part in this and that protest, how they were real flower children, and how other people talk about the 60’s but they actually lived it.

oddly, a lot of these same people are so uptight or complacent or such wasteful consumers now that i don’t see how they could have ever been part of the hippie movement. when did some of these folks make the shift from pot-smoking, acid-dropping, free-loving, war protesting hippies to bitter, judgmental, typical old fogeys? was the hippie thing a fad for them? were they just young, dumb, trend-followers at the time? did they eventually tire of fighting “the man” and accept an easier route through life? or are these folks wearing rose-tinted glasses? maybe they weren’t the hippies they claim to be, maybe they just remember themselves that way when they were actually just sitting on the sidelines, as prickly and conservative then as they are now. maybe they were just prickly conservatives who wore paisley shirts and bell bottoms.

there is an interesting story i read about roger waters of pink floyd that applies to this topic. when he was young and poor, he was a staunch communist. once he accrued great wealth, he thoroughly rejected communism and embraced capitalism. i think his political trajectory is similar to those of many who are brave and wild when they are young and have little to lose but become more cautious and accepting of the status quo once they have some nice things that they’d like to keep.

it goes without saying that not all old hippies are hypocrites. i’ve met lots of old cats that i absolutely adore who inspire me on numerous levels: to be more socially and politically aware and active, to be more open-minded, to always be young at heart. but those wonderful individuals don’t make the ex-hippies any less disappointing, and inspiring in a different way, i suppose.

“sure, i protested the vietnam war. but that was before i knew how profitable war could be.”


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