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Hip, Hip Hurray!

 article about 1960\
I have met many people in the last five years who would describe
themselves as hippies. They eat organic food. They wear long flowing
shirts and they play the guitar. They would rather die than wear fur.
They love the earth and they look a little like Twiggy. However, they
dont believe in free love, they dont live in their van, they havent
done pot since high school, and the last time they help up a sign in
protest was for rising University fees (often admittedly as a happy
substitute to going to class). So has our definition changed or has
this generation moulded the word to a modern one?

The word
knight used to signify one of common birth. Today, it signifies someone
with noble birth and a fabulous accent, a la Sean Connery. Before, the
term hippie or flower child was a very clear label. According to the
dictionary, it meant someone who rejected the established culture and
advocated extreme liberalism in politics and lifestyle. It went beyond
a look to indicate lifestyle, much like the punk movement is more than
Mohawks and chains hanging off of low jeans. It indicates one who is
counterculture; who will not accept a lifestyle of cubicles and faces
with only expression, rather than decoration.

Lexical
expansion is not a new thing: it is a big part of the fickle English
language. We pick up words from other languages, and we ruin them with
our inability to roll our rs or insert romance into our speech. So if
one were to broaden the term hippie, it could be used to describe
dress, behaviour or economic status. It could as much used to describe
one who religiously eats granola to one who rebels against the
established order. However, does this expansion of the term give
suitable tribute to the roots and history of the idea.

In the
60s, the hippies were a force to be reckoned with. They were not the
placid, calm, often lazy people of today who describe themselves as
hippies. There were protests and ways of affirming beliefs that
transcended conventional social boundaries. Of course, there were the
elements that led to a form of dress that is now many childrens
Halloween costumes. Today, a person can look like a hippie in dress,
but also can be quite tightly wound and corporate in spirit. On the
other side, there can be hippies in disguise the people who wear suits
in the office but secretly say groovy and transcend the norms of church
and state. Thus we must be clear on this. Mr. X. looks like a hippie.
Mr. Y. is a hippie. Brings you back to your grammar school days, doesnt
it?

The adjusting priorities of a person who has a family
means that it is much easier to be a hippie while young. It is almost
expected that there is a certain degree of rebellion while growing up
and gaining wrinkles, but once the wrinkles are embedded, there are
often other people to think about. Thus, even the most dedicated hippie
of the 60s has to drop some of the irresponsible tags that are attached
to his belief system. However, the core of the hippie philosophy can
always remain impermeable: that of love and tolerance. Peace continues
to be an essential message in todays times, even if we no longer
express tolerance through our style.

As the hippie movement
emerged out of a need for acceptance, I suppose we should accept that
the term now does not have a clear boundary. It is a label that is free
to wander and hang loosely on identity or appearance. Just as hippies
rebel against order, the word hippie itself refuses to neatly follow
its participants.



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