Hippie Vision

All of the world

Is there for the taking

But a fool you are making

 Of yourself if you live

 Taking more than you give

While all the good Earth

You’re forsaking

A lot of us my age watched Lost In Space on TV when we were kids. It was the 60s. There was racy stuff going on here on Earth at the time: race riots; the arms race; the rat race with the Joneses next door; the space race.

Individuals and nations raced to be first feeling that to move beyond a problem was to be rid of it. We learned to believe in technology as a means of moving beyond. We (especially those growing up in the Detroit area) drove in our new cars over bumps in the consumerist road such as disposability, planned obsolescence and other environmental issues and as long as the road ahead was clear, so was our conscience. Since we were all destined to be spacemen, the road ahead was always clear.

There were folks around that time, a lot of them labeled ‘hippies’, that raised concerns about all the racing and its impact on our lives and on the Earth. True capitalist industrialists denounced them as tree huggers and without vision.

In fourth grade, my classmates and I were assigned with putting together scrapbooks about what life would be like in the year 2000. I still have mine somewhere and it contains visions of moving sidewalks everywhere (a la The Jetsons), domed cities on the moon and (I think) personal hovercrafts –if not spacecrafts– for everyone.

I lived in an industrial center and it was thoroughly ingrained in me that someone would invent and Detroit could build a machine that could move humans past any obstacle to their ultimately blissful technological existence. I think at the time I envisioned a blissfully peaceful technological coexistence. I was too young at the time to realize that besides our pursuit of the consumerist economic dream the other big driver of technology was warfare.

We were in the midst of the Vietnam war. Those labeled hippies were prescient enough to oppose that as well. They were denounced as communists.

Some hippies were proponents of hemp cultivation. It was put forth as a sustainable source of food, energy and fiber. Some even consumed it in order to get ‘high’. Many hippies were denounced as lazy or irresponsible.

When the 70s rolled through, there was an energy crunch. The cars we made relied solely on oil, most of it imported. Many in industrial centers lost their jobs as a change in epochs was introducing a new paradigm: the credit economy and the rise of finance as the major player therein through usury.

National banks grew enormous as laws against unfair interest rates were dismantled everywhere. You wondered why as a youngster in college or fresh out without much income you were able to get credt. It was because they didn’t necessarily want you to pay it back. Banks would get their money one way or another, even if they had to sell their bad debt to another bank.

The money that Ma and Pa average investor used to put into the local paper mill or parts factory saw double and triple the returns if put into the financial market. The consumerist debt economy took root as industry faded.

Average consumers drove speedily past financial obstacles with credit and debt ostensibly leaving the road ahead clear but that’s just a trick that credit and debt can play with one’s mind. In the end, someone’s got to pay.

Well… it’s now the 21st century and look where we are. I don’t live in a domed moon colony (neither do you). Economies everywhere are in crisis and that’s not the biggest problem we have.

The Earth has been plundered for a century and a half. The changes in the environment during the industrial age were slow enough not to scare the hell out of everyone. Many still believed in technology as the answer to all our problems. During the credit/finance/debt age, many still ignored environmental issues in blind consumerist pursuit of an elusive happiness through wealth.

What age is it that we’re living in now? It would be nice if it were the age of responsibility. It’s the only thing of which we can take more than we give and not in the end be destructive.

What’s tallied at the finish line of this race it turns out is not how much you’ve gotten for yourself but how much you’ve given of yourself. Being responsible is giving of yourself; giving thought.

As Earth day approaches, I’m finally ready to don a hemp shirt and a peace sign necklace and wander over to the commune to join the hippies. They were obviously right all along (and always had the best music).

Let’s be responsible. Love one another. Love the Earth. Peace.

GYP008 Hippie Vision

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