“Once a hippie, always a hippie!”

My son brought home this button for me, and I had to laugh. People will often comment that I look like I was a hippie once. It must be my long hair or the flavor of my clothes. I think I look like a middle class, suburban mother with a background in art. I do have a secret desire to sell all the matching living room furniture and start from scratch at garage sales again!

I am a 1950’s baby boomer who grew up in California, wore beads, bells and no bra. Some of my friends never saw the eighties, whether from drugs, Vietnam or simple stupidity. Others never got into the flow of the real world, held a job over four months, and their futures still look bleak. Then there are the ones that never left their deep woods ranches, and still raise everything they need without outside help. Today, I am envious of them!

I remember more of the romantic, idealistic aspects of that era, instead of the tragic ones. I have argued that our generation did not destroy the moral fiber of our country, but I wonder how much serious damage we did. Like any movement or change, there are those that have only the highest regard for the principles they hold as dear, and there are always the people who get on the band wagon for a variety of less honorable reasons. “Free love” certainly produced its share of children and diseases! “Question authority” always gave me a laugh until my children did just that!

The younger, innocent set was drawn by the freedom, which all children in their teens look forward to, the self expression as well as the outright rebellion. What generation has not asked of their children “That was not acceptable in my day.”? The older, wiser leaders of this wonderful age simply wanted to change what they could see was not working. Hate, fear, prejudice was plentiful, establishment was corrupt, the earth was actively being polluted.

The older generation wanted to know why in the world we would question who we were? They knew who they were! They were raised to go to school, pick a spouse, career, settle into their pattern and live their lives. Now, I can see that is essentially what everyone gets around to, in some method or another, with variations and different styles. Then, all I could see was why should I do that? There is so much else to look at! A spouse? Why would I want to tie myself down? A career? I don’t know what I want to do tomorrow! How short sighted you can be, especially after the fact!

Then there is the almighty dollar! How willingly we were to be penniless in order to avoid joining the ranks of the establishment! How silly we were! How much Ramen we ate! Ayn Rand was an eye opener for me. My earnings were a direct reflection on my worth in the working world, and provided me with what ever I deemed necessary or desired. I still ache over taxes and bills, still yield and conform to others, but it provides me with my necessities and pastimes. Hopefully, it will provide me with my on independent ranch. But I refuse to let money become a priority over my time, my children, my values or my choices.

Perhaps the mind freedom was the most dangerous aspect of the era, and it gave way to exploration of areas that have always been strictly taboo. I am constantly shocked by the lack of value in our children, the literal destruction they impose, and the complete lack of compassion. I remember these are probably the children of my generation and I wonder how many of us did pull out! I am truly grateful I was able to recover from any areas I traveled in that direction.

A great deal of good came out of it, as it opened up teachings that were not internationally known before. I have always maintained that our country does not supply any standard teachings on the emotional aspects of life: how to handle anger, death, fear or hate. We simply teach reading, writing and arithmetic, and not well at that! The Est, Scientology, Nietzsche, Zen and all the rest were to the benefit of many, and has supplied me with the early basis of my internal peace. The Bible has recently added more than any of the rest, but that’s another chapter.

I would like to think that this generation, after years of trial and tribulation, can take all the positive influences of our growth, discard and destroy the negatives, and teach our children how to love unconditionally, seek truth and wisdom, hurt no one, be honest with everyone including ourselves, and concentrate of the improvement of all that surrounds us.

to be finished, alas......

Written by Sharry Anne Stevens 1990, all right reserved

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