“The eastern world, it’s exploding/ Violence flaring, bullets loading/ You’re old enough to kill, but not for voting/ You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re toting/ And even the Jordan River has bodies floating/ But you tell me over and over again, my friend/ Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction” – P.F. Sloan, 1965
I’m the type of person who has actually cried with the covers over my head on a Saturday night, wondering when the UN will care about the 60 years of human rights violations in Tibet. I’m the kind of person who screams to myself, “YES! I KNEW IT…” every time I come across a pundit who makes a logically founded anti-capitalist statement.
It’s the sign of an off-kilter kind of intelligence I guess, and perhaps even a heart of gold, to wonder when the world we’ve been born into that seems so dysfunctional and violent is going to self-destruct. The news certainly provides enough evidence to support this notion, especially with all the recent talk about global warming.
A person can find something different to become upset about every 10 seconds, thanks to the always ugly state of politics. Yet, there is no time to waste hiding under a duvet. The devil will play with your idle hands. Even if you don’t agree that our version of capitalism is moral, even if the wars of world cause you pain everyday, you still have to find a way to exist within our system. You still have to do something to make a living, even if you don’t want to. You must be involved in the world, regardless of the crises of our times because there are crises all the time. NEWS FLASH. This does not mean, however, that to be a part of society people must resign themselves to complacency.
It’s traditionally the youth’s job to rebel, to question, to act on feelings of doom and detest. The baby boomer’s response to the threat of being drafted in Vietnam was the hippie movement. Our parents threw up their deuces, and watched the power-hungry pillage from a chemically-induced psychedelic cloud of protest. As Charles Reich wrote in his book The Greening of America, the people with the highest level of consciousness chose to participate in this backwards world as minimalist mystics existing in a state of detached bliss so polemic it made conservative workhorses pop veins in their puritanical eyeballs.
“Make something of yourself. Do something with your life!!” the filthy rich, perfectly put together curmudgeons demanded of their tie dyed antagonists.
“I’m doing everything and nothing at the same time, mannn,” a true hippie would say back.
Don’t panic. Eat organic. Isn’t that the answer, Gypsy Boots? ——————>
While a small portion of us in the 21st century have retreated like Gypsy (who is known as America’s first hippie) to a paleolithic, off-the-grid lifestyle, foraging for nuts with a like-minded cadre, the counter culture spirit of millennials seems nowhere near as vibrantly defined as the youth rebellion of the 1960s. It does, however, exist. The lyrics of P.F. Sloan’s song “Eve of Destruction” (made famous by Barry McGuire) apply as much to the world now as they did over fifty years ago. Injustice, genocide, and poverty – *YAWN* – are still deemed life as usual. In 2013, how are we responding to the wars in the Middle East, the big banks and the assholes on Wall Street who’ll never be tried for their thievery? How are we retaliating against the growing income inequality and the politicians who allow the interests of corporations to determine government policies? We rebel by quitting our jobs to take a cross country road trip and do a bunch of drugs at music festivals. We choose to become artists. We cover ourselves with tattoos although it slashes our chances of finding gainful employment. We rebel by taking longer to grow up and settle in, if to do so means compromising our values to become a lucrative member of this world, because that’s what we deem virtuous. We battle with ourselves because of our own consciousness.
Behind every counter culture movement is group of people who feels effected enough by war, poverty, and unequal opportunity that it causes them to question who they want to be and why they’re here. Counter culture types have taken the time to form concrete opinions, regardless how others in mainstream may feel about them. Do not write these types off as people with personality disorders who have problems accepting authority and the omnipresent nature of conflict and corruption throughout history. No. There is a beautiful idealism that lies at the source of this dissidence.
Psychologists have theorized emerging adults who want to change the world may have some of the longest and most turbulent transitions into adulthood. People with these desires will embark on a grueling search to find a way to combat the evil they perceive, regardless of how their efforts are received professionally. This pursuit should be accepted by others, because it’s fueled by a righteous connection to the collective sadness.
Counter culture types are few, but they are proud. Onlookers, relish in our experimental guitar playing. Know our facial piercings are not a sign of criminal intent, but are instead the display of an iconic identity quest. Yes, all the nukes and all the pollution may make us falsely feel like the world is about to end. Yet, even if this notion is naive at best, even if Earth doesn’t blow up, we should still be encouraged to seek our path of non-violent defiance – positive disruption. If these efforts delay our development as “productive,” conventional people who feel well-adjusted to the cruel ways of the world, the time sacrificed is a noble price to pay. Teens and 20-somethings with these inclinations are the patriots of our time. They may grow to become society’s greatest source of inspiration if they widen their perspective and learn to meet the world halfway.