When I first started to reflect on his, I was inclined to cite the obvious big forces – the superrich, their military-industrial-financial complex, and a host of similar drains on the common good. I’ll let Bernie Sanders carry that side of the argument for now.
Instead, I’m thinking of some of the themes that play out in my novels Daffodil Uprising and Pit-a-Pat High Jinks.
- Individualism. The do-your-own-thing outlook had its upside, but it also dampened our ability to come together for sustained work toward shared goals. Ultimately, it lessened our common identity. Like Kenzie’s housemates at the farm, finding much common ground could be elusive.
- Fuzzy goals. Knowing what we were against, often fueled by anger, was rarely balanced by knowing what we were for – nobody had a clear idea of how to go to the better world we sensed was possible. Lifting the draft, for instance, was only one step toward making a more peaceful world. And not wanting to have a marriage or a job like those our parents endured wasn’t the same as raising children in a new way or running a small-is-beautiful successful business.
- Disrespect for labor. Yes, I know the “lazy hippie” slur, but I did see a lot of effort put forth, too. An expectation of something for nothing, though, had a divisive impact. Respect for labor also means knowing how to perform a job well and how to earn a livable wage. We were so naïve on so many fronts here.
- Drugs. Admittedly, passing the pipe had a tribal quality, but too much simply removed an individual from action. In that sense, the rumors of CIA involvement in the importation of hard drugs as a way to blunt the peace movement begin to sound deviously rational. And LSD left a lot of wreckage.
- Sexism and racism. It was there, one way or another. By the way, we didn’t see a lot of black hippies, did we? That in itself could be another topic of discussion.
- Free love fallout. For many, it was fun while it lasted. Some even ended up in marriages that have lasted. For many, though, it led instead to betrayals, breakups, and bitterness – not exactly the ideal image when you define hippie as happy.
- Irresponsibility. Think of the vanishing food from your shelf in the refrigerator or the things that got permanently borrowed without anyone asking. The list of examples will be long.
- Aging. It was a youth movement, maybe the first generational tide in history. Geezer is not part of the definition of hippie – never has been, never will be. Besides, can we trust anyone under 30?
- Violence. Few of us have turned out to be as consistently gentle as we’d like. Even if we never crossed over into physical hostility, we’ve likely been verbally wounding. Anyone else remember a few from back then who bought a gun – for self-defense, as they always argued? Especially if they were involved in dealing?
- Global warming. I’m not kidding. This will completely thwart any Revolution of Peace & Love as everyone runs for the hills. Or tries to swim in the riptide.
What would you add to the list?
It’s not just Cassia in What’s Left who wants to know about her father’s fascination with Tibetan Buddhism. It plays a big role in his movements in Pit-a-Pat-High Jinks and Subway Visions, too.
- Number of Tibetans in U.S.: Estimated at 9,000.
- Buddhists in U.S.: 3,860,000 (Pew Research Center, 2010). Other estimates range from 1.2 million to 8 million.
- Number of converts: 800,000.
- Buddhism in Indiana (scene of What’s Left): Includes the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center and Kumbum Chamtse Ling Temple, both in Bloomington and founded by Thubten Norbu, brother of the Dalai Lama.
- Other major Tibetan Buddhist centers in U.S.: Barnet, Vermont; Berkeley, California; Boulder, Colorado; Chino Valley, Arizona; Red Feather Lakes, Colorado; Poolesville, Maryland; Portland, Oregon Seattle, Washington; Sedona, Arizona; Woodstock, New York.
- Population of Tibet: 6 million Tibetans, 7.5 million Chinese settlers.
- Estimated number of Tibetans killed by Chinese since 1949: 1.2 million.
- Number of monasteries destroyed: 6,000.
- The Dalai Lama: Its spiritual leader has more than 13 million Twitter followers.
- Most Tibetans fear the spirit world and its demons: They’re blamed for illness, bad luck, and misfortune.
Thanks to Cassia’s father in my novel What’s Left, she’s familiar with Buddhist teaching and practice.
Here are ten basics.
- Siddhartha Gautama: Historical figure who established the teachings in northern India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. Often referred to as the Buddha.
- Buddhas: Transcendent figures found throughout the universe. Gautama embodies one of them.
- Dharma: The law or the way taught by Gautama to overcome suffering or dukka (perhaps better rendered as stress or dissatisfaction). One translation has Dharma as the process itself.
- Reincarnation: The state of one’s next rebirth is determined by the fruits of an individual’s karma (actions) in the present life.
- Nirvana: An eternal state of perfect peace, bliss, and enlightenment, usually achieved through meditation and breaking the chain of further rebirth.
- Boddhisattvas: Figures who have attained nirvana but instead of going their immediately, compassionately reincarnate to assist others.
- Sutras: The scriptures (literally “stitchings”).
- Three major branches of Buddhism: Theravada, prominent in Indochina; Mahayana, the largest and most liberal branch; and Vajrayana, which emphasizes the magical and the occult.
- Tantra: Sacred texts in the Vajrayana branch describing secret methodologies and practices.
- Mandalas and tankas: Vajrayana visual images to aid meditation.
Gee, I didn’t even get to koans, those mind-boggling puzzles presented to Zen aspirants.
While monasteries with wider church support are a longstanding institution in Christian history, independent, self-sustaining faith-based communes have made their mark in America. Unlike a monastery, not all of them were celibate.
Here are ten.
- Ephrata Cloister. Pennsylvania, 1732-2008. Founded by Johann Conrad Beissel, the pietist group broke off from the German Baptist Brethren (or Dunker) denomination, which largely continues as today’s Church of the Brethren. It had the second printing press in the American colonies. Its celibate emphasis was gradually eliminated.
- Moravians. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1741), and Salem, North Carolina (1753). The denomination dates to Jan Hus (1369-1415), a Czech reformer years before Luther and Calvin led the Protestant Reformation. The American communities initially had common ownership of all property by the church, supervised housing for single men and single women, and likely other communal aspects.
- The Shakers. Founded by Mother Ann Lee, it settled in Watervliet, New York, 1774, and spread from Maine to Indiana and Kentucky. Best known of the communal movements, in part for its beautiful furniture and architecture. One village remains.
- Hebus Valley. Pennsylvania. Founded by George Rapp, 1824-1906. Christian theosophists and pietists.
- Hopedale Community. Massachusetts, Adin Ballou, 1842-1856. “Practical Christianity” with a Universalist base. Utopian ideals included temperance, abolitionism, women’s rights, and spiritualism. Attempted to be part of the surrounding community.
- Amana Colonies. Originated in Germany in 1714 and arrived in Iowa, 1855. Communal system ended in 1932.
- Bruderhof. An Anabaptist denomination arising from the Hutterites in Germany in 1920, it has communities in Paraguay, Europe, Australia, and the United States (from 1954). Its beliefs are similar to Mennonites – peace, simplicity, adult baptism, and so on. There are currently 17 communities in the U.S.
- Hare Krishnas. The best known of the ISKON (Krishna Consciousness) communities is New Vrindaban, West Virginia, settled in 1968.
- Friends Southwest House. McNeal, Arizona, opened in 1976. I didn’t even know of this Quaker community, much less of its long life.
- Eighteenth Avenue Peace House. Portland, Oregon, opened in 1986. Ecumenical Christian.
Any you’d add to the list?
Top Ten, Religion, Spirituality, History, Inspiration,
Talk of pooling income and possessions thrived in the hippie era, though it rarely took form in practice – and, when it did, the results were often disastrous.
More common was the kind of shared rent arrangement like the farm I describe in my novel Pit-a-Pat High Jinks.
Here are ten from American history. Utopian socialism was a common theme.
- New Harmony, Indiana. Robert Owen, 1825-1829.
- Oberlin Colony. Ohio, 1833-1843.
- Fourier Society. Based on the ideas of French philosopher Charles Fourier, communes existed in New Jersey, 1841-1858; New York state, 1844-1846; Wisconsin, 1844-1850; Ohio, 1844-1845.
- The Transcendentalists. Brook Farm, George and Sophia Ripley, 1841-1846, and Fruitlands, Amos Alcott, 1843-1844, both in Massachusetts.
- Oneida Colony. John H. Noyes, New York state, 1848-1880. The first of a series of communes with radical ideas about free love and open marriage. (I love the name of one of those in Ohio, 1854-1858: Free Lovers at Davis House.)
- Icarians. Followers of French philosopher Etienne Cabet established communes in Louisiana, Texas, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and California, 1848-1898.
- Home, Washington. 1895-1919, based on an anarchist philosophy.
- Twin Oaks. Virginia, 1967 to the present.
- The Farm. Stephen Gaskin, Lewis County, Tennessee, 1971 to the present.
- East Wind Community. Ozark County, Missouri, 1973 to the present.
Any you’d add to the list?
- Starts easily. Just push a button rather than trying to yank that cord.
- There’s no cord to break. (Ever had that happen?)
- I don’t have to buy gasoline.
- It’s far less polluting. Lawnmower emissions are notorious.
- It’s quiet. I won’t wake the neighbors.
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver.
- And it folds up easily, for storage or transportation.
- If it needs to go in the car, there’s no gasoline to spill.
- Never needs sharpening. The blades are designed with rounded edges. For that matter, there’s no annual tune-up.
- The rechargeable battery also fits my weed whacker and other yard gadgets I’ll likely be adding. I’ve heard some good things about the chainsaw.
Anyone else running on rechargeable batteries?
Since these are transcribed from the Hellenic alphabet, their spellings in Latin script can vary.
Here are ten.
- Yasou. Hello.
- Kalos orises. Welcome.
- Ti kanete. How are you?
- Ine kalo. That’s good.
- Ne. Yes.
- Ohi. No.
- Signomi. Excuse me.
- Efharisto. Thank you.
- Parakalo. Please. Also, you’re welcome.
- Goodbye. Andio sas.
I’ll leave the swear words to Cassia in my novel What’s Left. Especially the ones she learned at church camp.