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Friday, January 4, 2013

What the hippies could get away with that we can't



During the 60s, I was too young to participate but old enough to observe. I really came of age in the 70s. By the time I got out of high school in '76, the whole hippy thing had run its course. Many of the experiments of that time had run out of steam. The Vietnam War was over so there was no longer a major movement to unite young people.

A tiny fraction of the hippies continued to live their values. A handful of communes survived. Many people held on to some of the values but pretty much integrated the rest of society.

Most got haircuts, ditched the tie dyed clothes, finished their degrees and got real jobs.

There were real jobs to be had and money to be made. Much of the hippie movement happened on college campuses. That means those young people came from a background financially well enough off to afford college. The lower working class, by and large, didn't protest the war. They got their draft notice and went and fought it. Still, even for most of them, there were jobs waiting for them when the got home. Maybe in a factory, but they could earn a living and a piece of the American Dream.

For a while it was fashionable to drop out. When that went out of fashion, most dropped back in.

Today, the fear is that dropping out is a one way trip. Once off the corporate treadmill, it's hard to jump back on. Human resources departments don't want to hear that you took a year off to read philosophy. There are plenty of other people they could hire instead. Dropping out is long long drop these days.

Unlike the 60s, students are indentured to massive student loans. Those payments have to be made. Voluntary simplicity is for rich folks who went college without loans. How weird is that?

People don't drop out of their comfortable middle class lives; they are pushed out. Jobs are lost, houses foreclosed on, and the dream is over. It's a tough landing. Too many of friends are on the raggedy edge, looking at that hard landing. I've been told that they don't know how to live like I do. That's too bad, as their landing will be a lot harder than it could be. They keep hoping for a last minute improvement that shows no signs of appearing. Job searches have stretched into years.

It's one thing to drop out when you are 21, healthy, and live in a prosperous time. It's another thing to be pushed out when you are 40, with bad knees, a wife, kids, a mortgage and two car payments. You don't crash at a friend's pad and beg mom and dad for some bread.

Those pushed out of the middle class would benefit from having a landing zone picked out. Maybe an old RV they can park on some cheap land. Perhaps n old sailboat they can live on. Maybe something as simple as selling or abandoning the house and cramming the family into an upstairs apartment above their shop. Sure beats living in your car. Heck, maybe that car is one of the things you should have ditched years ago.

The thing is, many of us will end up living like hippies, but without the cool music and too much gray in our beards. Mom and dad won't be sending us any checks as they are barely getting by themselves. There will still be people with the appearance of living the dream, but they'll be running faster and faster just to stay in place. There will also be a lot fewer of them. For the rest, it's an exercise in getting by with less. Wake up from the dream and deal with the reality.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could at least get some decent music, peace, love and understanding out of the whole experience?

-Sixbears

20 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. We are in for some interesting times.

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  2. Decent music, peace love and understanding. You're expecting a lot out of life Sixbears...

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    1. Yes I am, but I've gotten a lot out of life.

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  3. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)January 4, 2013 at 5:42 AM

    Good post Sixbears. A lot of people don't realize the American Dream is dead right now. Maybe it will come back, but it will never be quite the same. People are going to have to learn to be creative again. They are the ones who will get by; the 'takers' won't.

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    Replies
    1. People will learn to be creative, but creative can be fun.

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    2. The problem is the American Dream isn't dead, most Americans are still asleep, and it has turned into a Nightmare....

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  4. I liked your entire post, but that last part about decent music is spot on - today's youth music is just ridiculous! The lyrics alone - not much skills. Bad voice - doesn't matter that dumb electronic voice thingy covers that up (I can't tell if its a person singing or a cat with its tail stuck under a rocking chair).

    And the music is played by a group of people, the singer is jumping around stage doing jazzercize dressed in weird clothing. I told my daughter 'That ain't a band - a band plays AND sings simultaneously'.

    Hippie 70's musicians played in blue jeans, t shirts and pretty much just stood in place playing the music.

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    1. There's a reason that 70's music never died. In recent years I've taken a liking to old Blues. It fits the times.

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  5. The draft was disproportionately applied to the poor and minorities. Then in typical skewed reasoning Congress changed the requirements and jerked college deferments with a lottery drawing in an attempt to make it appear balanced. It was still wasn't the answer, just as the war wasn't.

    The music of that era did survive. The Rolling Stones just celebrated 50 years. We still listen to Hendrix, Joplin, The Doors, et al. Now that was and still is real music.

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    Replies
    1. We have an economic draft now. The poor can't find any other work.

      We did get some great music from those times.

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  6. Great post right on the mark.Kinda ironic isnt it the retirees of today WERE the flower child hippies of the sixtys.AS for peoples falling out economicaly and making a crash landing by job loss.A little planning can cushin the landing.For the cost of a good used car a couple can survive it.I made the transition the secret is not to hang on to what you have but to provide for what you NEED. Keep spreading the truth my friend

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    1. Some people can't let go of their precious anchor, even when it's hauling them to the bottom.

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  7. I preferred the music from the 50's. Still prefer it or bluegrass.

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    1. I like bluegrass once in a while myself. It comes from knowing a lot of fiddle players.

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  8. Once again it was a great post. I would disagree on one thing though, there is some good music today. Check out Bruno Mars and Eliza Doolittle. Most of the modern music isn't good but if you pay attention there is still talent out there. Enjoy your day :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. I'll have to look them out.

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  9. Todays yuppie, was yesterdays hippie.
    The primary difference is that many have dropped the pacifism, and have adopted the AR platform instead. Which in itself is not a bad thing. It only gets bad where the self sufficiency is also dropped and they believe that weapons are the total answer.
    A combination of both an Old style commune hippie, now also equipped with weapons is a much more realistic proposition.

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