I remember my favorite neighbor, Morrie Wolf, driving into our yard and saying, “You have got to hear this song!” It was “Old Hippie” by the Bellamy Brothers.
Yep, I’m an old hippie. I was a rebel, but the only way I was destructive was in distancing my relationship with my folks for a few years. It was nothing like the revolution our forefathers conducted against their own government.
I had to prove that I could be independent and self-sufficient. Although there were some lean times, I survived by knowing that beans and rice provide an amino acid balance suited for humans.
Viewed from the outside, the hippie culture was libertine; which means do as you please without regard to its cost to others. My own view was, and is, do as you please and never have a negative impact on others.
The highlights of those times were mind-altering substances and the anti-war movement.
As it turns out, the drugs are now viewed more objectively and some productive uses have been discovered in medicine and psychology. As with any tool, misuse is always a concern, but the benefits are starting to outweigh the drawbacks, especially when the collateral damage of the war-on-drugs is taken into account.
The Tonkin Gulf Incident that was used as an excuse to attack Vietnam has now been exposed as a scam to feed industry. Donald Trump may have even won The White House on his anti-war promises. I’m encouraged.
Maybe it was the influence of my dad, which seems strange because he represented the establishment at the time. But I quickly discovered I was in a tough spot. To be anti-war (that is to value life over a flag or blind cult-like devotion to a nation) meant aligning with the communists (at least in a few peoples’ eyes). We had to take sides and stand side by side with, what would seem to be an enemy of freedom. And to me, freedom was the chief value of a hippie.
Now we have “the virus.” Freedom has been tossed onto the ash-heap of history. The government can close businesses at will. The right to peaceful assembly is just a fond memory. Ben Franklin would probably want to use a copper kite string to escape the dystopian vision that came to pass.
I’m not trying to trivialize “the virus.” It looks like it may turn out to be more deadly than the flu after all. That depends on definitions. Some states are classifying any death where the subject tested positive for Covid-19 to be caused by the virus, no matter if that was it, or if it was something else. With so many victims at an advanced age, might the statistics create a distorted reality that is not dependable enough to abolish the Constitution and spend the earnings of our children?
With the passing of John Prine, his work is at the forefront for many of us. His anti-war and anti-drug war lyrics served as anthems in our time. How fortunate that we have recordings to remind us from where we came.
Some of us do need reminding. I read a Facebook post claiming that we need to vote for Democrats to preserve Social Security and Medicare and stop an authoritarian government.
What is the vision of this person? In what world is there Social Security and Medicare without an authoritarian government? Is it the Soviet Union or Red China, where those who resist authoritarian government are simply killed? Is there some magic potion that stimulates the altruism in us?
If we accept authoritarianism as a tool to achieve our own goals, we can’t complain when that same tool is used for goals of which we don’t approve. Hey, old hippies, listen to John Prine.
Interesting fact: The n95 mask we are being encouraged to use to protect others filters the air we breath in but not the air we exhale. How does that protect others. Always question authority.