by Robert Klassen
by Robert Klassen
I wasn't a hippie. I was born before WWII, so I was a little too old. I was also raising a family and working two jobs when the hippies arrived. But I couldn't help noticing them, and wondering about them.
We had a sick baby in a San Francisco hospital at the time, and I drove through the Haight district and Golden Gate Park every day, marveling at the colorful costumes and the wild hair these children wore. Where did they come from? How could they afford to bum around like this?
I found some answers eventually. They came from post-war middle-class suburbs all over the country, and their parents were paying for their juvenile antics. That they had access to money was not lost on marketing departments, especially in the recording industry.
This was the first generation of human beings to grow up in front of a television set. Their parents owned a car, or maybe two. Electricity was a given, running water and indoor plumbing were taken for granted. These kids did not hunt for food, or grow food, and their clothes came new from a store. Most did not have to work for anything, not even a high school diploma. And, naturally, they were all going to college.
The hippies were given what they wanted, and like anybody who didn't earn their own money, they didn't know what to do with it, so they threw it away. In their search for "meaning" in screaming music and drugged minds, many declared for a "new lifestyle," and the hippie commune was born.
This was a natural enough development from the elementary urges to get stoned, get laid, and get away with it, aided and abetted by whatever infantile notions of Marxism they carried away from public school. But problems emerged: no electricity, no running water, no indoor plumbing, and no shopping mall. This might be fine for a dry California summer, but it would not be fine for a wet, cold winter.
I never worried much about the stinking "long hairs," even though we were seeing a lot of hepatitis and venereal disease where I worked. I figured that since these were middle-class kids, they'd soon grow up, and revert to their childhood values. I see that I was right — and wrong.
The hippies are all fifty-something now; they grew up. If they talk about those days at all, it's usually in hushed and private tones, complete with grins and giggles. Most are college graduates, most are respectable professionals, most expect a healthy retirement in a few more years, and most didn't learn a thing from their youthful fling in the gutter. It's still the "me" generation.
Something essential is missing from this generation: a solid sense of right and wrong. Whatever their parents may have believed, and held sacred, was evidently washed out by television, schools, and the perpetually growing insanity of the state. The hippies escaped their war, but have no particular judgment about war. The hippies laugh at their first president's peccadilloes, and shrug off his lies under oath; so what's an oath? The hippies believe that lying, cheating, and stealing are normal, and fine, if you don't get caught.
The hippies are well represented in the District of Criminals today. They expect to get their Social Security, and the future be damned. They gobbled up the gift from the Fed, and the future be damned. Their own children are almost too old for the draft, and the future be damned.
The hippies got away with it when they were young. The hippies got away with it all of their lives. But while they gloat in middle age, they better have a glance at the total bankruptcy that lurks in their assumptions.
Life in the commune was only pleasant during the summer.
August 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Robert Klassen