People often call me a hippie – but the fact is that most people who do have no idea how far I take it. I might cover that topic at a later date, but for now I’d like to delve into what a hippie truly is – or isn’t.
The popular conception of hippies is that they’re slackers, stoners, ill-groomed, unreliable and naive. Like, say, Cheech and Chong, or the last person you saw who looked like they time warped from Woodstock. Sort of like this:
But hippies have evolved. Hell, they’re even on Twitter. Here’s the thing: mainstream discourse has always failed to grasp the legitimate movements behind hippie culture. While there’s an obvious link between a subculture of people who question widely accepted viewpoints and those who are overt dissidents, there are a whole lot of people who exist in a grey area. I’m one of them. Sometimes I’m not even sure where the boundaries lie and I probably cross over and back many times. This leads me to my next observation about hippies: sometimes you can’t recognize them for what they are. For example, I’m sure former Fear Factor host and UFC commentator Joe Rogan wouldn’t tag himself as a hippie, or at least as just a hippie. But a lot of his ideas are decidedly anti-status quo and are always based on the principles of thinking for yourself and questioning society. You don’t have to be high to enjoy the following mind bomb, but I dare you to come away from it not feeling rocked on some level:
We’re a prolific bunch. And the counter-intuitive reality, believe it or not, is that people who are often referred to as hippies, liberals, progressives, etc. are actually all about being conservative. Oh yes. Not conservative as in, say, Republican notions about gay marriage or reproductive rights. What I’m talking about is how we approach the issues that affect everyone, particularly the most vulnerable. Hippies are conservative in the sense that they reject waste and the ensuing chaos and suffering caused by:
- Environmental pollution and the over-exploitation of natural resources
- Rampant materialism that encourages people to consume more and more stuff – justified by a ‘need’ to keep the economy rolling, and supported by the belief that our identities are commodities (as is everything else for that matter, apparently)
- Unrealistic, moralistic and ineffective policy responses to poverty and crime (which of course are inextricably linked) – the disastrous war on drugs being a huge case in point
- Agricultural policy (e.g. subsidies) driven by corporate lobbyists (e.g. Cargill and Monsanto) and the crusade for profit – not the need for healthy, nutritious food, or long-term yield, biodiversity and the humane treatment of animals
- Laws (especially income tax laws) that reflect the interests of large corporations and the wealthy (one in the same, really), and which are designed to be obtuse and non-transparent so the general population is largely unaware of how these decisions affect them
- A medical establishment focused on the management (vs. treatment) of symptoms, not the core causes, and which is bankrolled and educated by the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries – a system which arguably sickens more people than it heals and provides particularly worse care to women, First Nations and other ethnic minorities
A key point here is that we don’t even have to appeal to spiritual or ethical frameworks for manifesting justice on this planet – because what is practical is ethical.
So while I’m proud to be a hippie, I’m much more than just that. I’m a joker, a punk, a metalhead, a geek, a dreamer, a realist. Nobody fits into a neat little category. We can do away with labels – they only serve to limit us. Like people who think and act like environmentalists, for example, but refuse to call themselves environmentalists. Call it what you will, but ultimately we’re all capable of thinking critically, opening our minds to new paradigms and living more meaningful, conscious lives.
You can dismiss any given person as a hippie or anything else for that matter, but what you probably don’t want to admit deep down, if you’re not the sort of person who embraces it, is that somewhere inside you is a being who wants to just be who they are – free from the constraints of dogma, poverty and emotional bondage. It all starts with taking responsibility for our own thoughts and actions. This takes a great deal of courage when our views don’t reflect those of our employers, lawmakers, families, religions, etc. – but it’s the only way we’re going to find enough common ground to tip the balance of power and end the insanity of a global regime that refuses to accept reality. It starts with being honest with ourselves: