Hippies were quite dissatisfied with the world their parents have built for them. Their dreams flew far beyond than the splendor of the booming economy. Institutions were not there to protect them, as they were seen as a dreaded “Establishment”, which was responsible for the horrid of the Vietnam War. As for the dominant culture and middle class values, they were perceived as something inherently flawed, and even utterly corrupt.
A breath of fresh air
The worst thing about it all was the omnipresence of social and political violence. It was the opposite of everything hippies stood for: Personal freedom, love, and peace. So, the same old could not cut it. The vivid richness of existence demanded that they go an extra mile. Eastern philosophy was a guiding light that offered pristine spirituality. It could instill individuals with a new meaning in life, offer them a way out of the stale cultural landscape they despised and did not want to be a part of.
Another way to expand your mind was through the use of psychedelic drugs. Namely, marihuana, and especially LSD, gave them a chance to go were few in western society have ever been: Altered states of consciousness. On the other hand, they were not keen on hard drugs like heroin. Furthermore, hippies were champions of sexual liberation and free love, which was met with an utmost dismay of the “straight” segments of the society.
Art is long and life is short
Hippie culture was distinctive and brimming with artistic value. Psychedelic rock, folk music, street theater, alternative arts, were all an integral part of their lifestyle. Some of them could not bear the rottenness, and decided to live in hippie communities. Others embarked on journeys to distant horizons, soaking in new cultural milieus. The vehicle of choice was a VW van, spacious enough to accommodate the whole coterie of merry travelers.
The way they dressed was also an important aspect of their identity. You could often recognize a hippie from a mile away, in their rugged, brightly-colored clothes. Tie-dyed T-shirts, sandals, beads and jewelry were darlings of the movement, and a way to differentiate from the “square” cultural mainstream. In those golden years, you could always see hippies around flea markets and secondhand shops, due to their aversion to consumerism and commercialism.
The Golden State Park in San Francisco was the birthplace of the Human Be-In festival, an event which has led to the legendary Summer of Love, an event where around 10,000 people flocked. It was a good time to be a hippie: They danced in front of the cameras, immersed in music, and celebrated their culture at events unlike anything seen before. Alas, the years rolled by, and some would say that the movement died and lost its revolutionary potential.
However, years later, hippies still pursue the same values. They utilize technology to watch musicals like Hairspray and Godspell, attend hippie festivals, and push the boundaries of consciousness. These things echo the bygone era, but what has been lost is a universal sense that something big is happening. It seemed as if the sheer energy would prevail. The momentum was there, and hippies were riding the crest of the wave. At one point the wave broke and rolled back, but you can still see the marks it left on the face of our society.
A wind of change
Hippies were impellers of an extraordinary time, where a unique set of circumstances nurtured a dramatic change. The proliferation of hippie counterculture has caught many people off guard, but it was the result of burning issues remaining unsolved and neglected. The shift could be felt in the air, and you were able to strike a spark anywhere. The hippie movement fulfilled their mission of dropping out of the society and embracing alternative culture, albeit political ambitions eventually fell short.