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The Hippie Movement of the 1960’s Essay

The 1960’s were, in my opinion the most influential decade in the history of the world. Some people went from being preppy, well-kept human beings to turning into long-haired, earth- loving and careless people. When the citizens of today look back at the ‘60s, they think of one of the happiest decades their generation has ever seen if not the happiest they’ve ever went through. The “hippies” stressed that everybody be happy, calm and find peace through love and tolerance. This means that everybody should just be happy, love everybody, and put up with anything that bothered them because if they were in a care free state, did these things really bother them in the end?

This whole movement was started by a man named Timothy Leary. This man had a PhD in Psychology and conducted experiments at Harvard University such as the Concord Prison Experiment. Leary was also around back when LSD and Psilocybin were both very legal drugs and were available to anybody who had the money to pay for it. LSD became big when Leary conducted his Concord Prison experiment. It started with Leary and his associates (which were prisoners) took a hit of LSD.

After they took a hit of LSD and their “trips” we done and over with, 36 prisoners were reported to have repented and swore to give up any criminal activity that may occur in the future. Taking LSD had some very interesting results. In some cases, it had been known that the use of this drug has partially or completely changed the user’s personality. If you might have noticed, hippies had a very mellow attitude so the use of LSD or marijuana may have had an impact on them and altered their personalities and the way they think or view the world.

Leary also made a few of his “catchphrases” popular and used them to promote his philosophy. Such catchphrases included “turn on, tune in, drop out”; “set and setting” and “think for yourself and question authority”.

At the same time that the hippie movements were going on in San Francisco, American troops were overseas in Vietnam defending the Vietnamese from the Viet-Kong troops from taking over their country and turning its government into a communist government. When the hippies were off preaching about peace through love and tolerance, what better thing to associate it to than the Vietnam War. The hippies really wanted happiness for everybody and for the world to be at peace.

There were many great bands and artists that were performing in the 1960’s. These include artists like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Steppenwolf, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Guess Who, The Band, Janis Joplin, The Beatles, The Who and Bob Marley. These bands or artists had all written songs the promoted peace and happiness, either with the mood of the song or the actual lyrics in them. Jimi Hendrix especially encouraged marijuana in his music as you could see from the lyrics in his song “Purple Haze”.

In August of 1969, the largest outdoor concert was held in Bethel, New York called the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair. This concert would feature “hippie” bands such as The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, CCR, The Band, Mountain and Jefferson Airplane. Most of the greatest hits didn’t come for these bands until after Woodstock but most of their careers took off after the festival.

The main idea of the festival was to bring everybody together in a big place and have a good time. Well, that they did. There were massive amounts of alcohol, LSD, marijuana and many other different drugs present at the festival. When they founders of the festival came up with the idea to have an outdoor concert, they figured that they would only have a few thousand people show up. They underestimated by a mile. Some 500 000 people showed up at the 600 acre farm for this concert, and that included people from across the country.

After the concert ended, the United States government created an Act that large gatherings the size of Woodstock could not take place in the country anymore. Which makes sense because if I had 500 000 people on my property, I wouldn’t be very happy with it either. One of the most memorable performances at Woodstock was Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Even though he was the last act of the concert and played in front of a very small crowd, the fact that he was the first rocker to cover the anthem makes it one of the most memorable performances of the festival.

The actual hippie movement itself started in San Francisco, California when a large group of Americans began to move to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. All it took was a small group of people to start acting and dressing different (long shaggy hair, clothing that stood out, different vocabulary) and eventually it caught on. People started to figure out that it was time to get rid of the “up-tight”, “serious”, “hard-nosed” attitudes and start living their lives a different way. In this case, their way was to be different that everybody else, not have a care in the world and be more “laid-back” than everybody else. When others started to see this, they realized that this was the “in” thing.

Before you knew it, people of all ages started wearing pants that had funny patterns and shirts that had flowers and funky colors on them. People started growing out their hair out really long, growing out beards, and wearing sunglasses that were “far out”. It’s amazing how just a small group of people can turn something into a world-wide movement.

This movement started in the early sixties, but didn’t really pick up until the mid-sixties with the “migration” of hippies to San Francisco. But as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end. The Woodstock music festival was what really kept the movement going for as long as it did, but then came along a new drug and a new group that would make everybody rethink what they were doing.

Charles Manson and a few of his relatives were an odd group of people. What made them just like every other hippie is the fact that they looked just like hippies, and shared the same passion and love for music and peace did everybody else; but they were on a new kind of drug that was just starting to boom, cocaine.

With the tragic murders of the Tate family that the Manson family committed, the hippies couldn’t believe that someone of their own could do such a terrible thing. They began to realize that if a hippie could do that, maybe that wasn’t the type of life they wanted to live anymore. A fair amount of people got very paranoid, and for the first time people began to lock their doors.

Things were changing, and unlike before when you could walk into somebody’s house and smoke a joint and become best friends with a complete stranger, people were second guessing who their true friends were. Cocaine really helped spoil the movement as well. People actually began building walls around themselves and their families, figuratively and literally. Unfortunately, the drug got really popular and a lot of people started using, which ruined the lives of many and still continues to do so today.

So, we’re left with asking ourselves a question. If something so simple as changing the way we dress, the way we treat each other and the way we view the world, what’s stopping us from doing that today but just on a larger scale? Perhaps tackling world hunger, or bullying. It was truly amazing how popular this style caught on, and that it lasted a full decade. Imagine a world where everybody has a full stomach three times a day, every day for the rest of their lives. Imagine a world where everybody was polite and considerate to each other no matter what. Imagine.


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