Green homes? Organic food? Nature is good? Time to give the ol' tie-dyers some respect....
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
There is but one conclusion you can draw from the astonishing (albeit fitful, bittersweet) pro-environment sea change now happening in the culture and (reluctantly, nervously) in the halls of power in D.C., one thing we must all acknowledge in our wary, jaded, globally warmed universe: The hippies had it right all along. Oh yes they did.
You know it's true. All this hot enthusiasm for healing the planet and eating whole foods and avoiding chemicals and working with nature and developing the self? Came from the hippies. Alternative health? Hippies. Green cotton? Hippies. Reclaimed wood? Recycling? Humane treatment of animals? Medical pot? Alternative energy? Natural childbirth? Non-GMO seeds? It came from the granola types (who, of course, absorbed much of it from ancient cultures), from the alternative worldviews, from the underground and the sidelines and from far off the goddamn grid and it's about time the media, the politicians, the culture as a whole sent out a big, wet, hemp-covered apology.
But if you're really bitter and shortsighted, you could say the entire hippie movement overall was just incredibly overrated, gets far too much cultural credit for far too little actual impact, was pretty much a giant excuse to slack off and enjoy dirty lazy responsibility-free sex romps and do a ton of drugs and avoid Vietnam and not bathe for a month and name your child Sunflower or Shiva Moon or Chakra Lennon Sapphire Bumblebee. This is what's called the reactionary simpleton's view. It blithely ignores history, perspective, the evolution of culture as a whole. You know, just like America.
But, you know, whatever. The proofs are easy enough to trace. The core values and environmental groundwork laid by the '60s counterculture are still so intact and potent even the stiffest neocon Republican has to acknowledge their extant power.
....even the drug culture is getting some new respect. Staid old Time mag just ran a rather snide little story about the new studies being conducted by Harvard and the National Institute of Mental Health into the astonishing psychospiritual benefits of goodly entheogens such as LSD, psilocybin and MDMA. Unfortunately, the piece basically backhands Timothy Leary and the entire "excessive," "naive" drug culture of yore in favor of much more "sane" and "careful" scientific analysis happening now, as if the only valid methods for attaining knowledge and an understanding of spirit were through control groups and clinical, mysticism-free examination. Please.
Still, the fact that serious scientific research into entheogens is being conducted even in the face of the most anti-science, pro-pharmaceutical, ultra-conservative presidential regime in recent history is proof enough that all the hoary old hippie mantras about expanding the mind and touching God through drugs were onto something after all (yes, duh). Tim Leary is probably smiling wildly right now -- though that might be due to all the mushrooms he's been sharing with Kerouac and Einstein and Mary Magdalene. Mmm, heaven.
Of course, true hippie values mean you're not really supposed to care about or attach to any of this, you don't give a damn for the hollow ego stroke of being right all along, for slapping the culture upside the head and saying, See? Do you see? It was never about the long hair and the folk music and Woodstock and taking so much acid you see Jesus and Shiva and Buddha tongue kissing in a hammock on the Dog Star, nimrods.
It was, always and forever, about connectedness. It was about how we are all in this together. It was about resisting the status quo and fighting tyrannical corporate/political power and it was about opening your consciousness and seeing new possibilities of how we can all live with something resembling actual respect for the planet, for alternative cultures, for each other. You know, all that typical hippie crap no one believes in anymore. Right?