Lehigh University, Class of 2003
May 2000

[1]    “Hippies” was a term for the youth who tried to set their own standards, fight against their oppressing establishment, and leave their own mark in history. There were many stereotypes concerning hippies. One of the main stereotypes portrayed by the mass media and society was that hippies were all products of drugs. There were many people who selected to live a bohemian alternative lifestyle, which was "left" of the mainstream of society. The archetype of the sixties, the “flower child,” wore bell-bottoms, long hair, and listened to folk music, and was automatically assumed to be a drug user. Even though there were many drugs in the 1960s, the hippies’ counterculture was more than a product of drugs but rather “the times were a changing.” This tumultuous era was a tug of war between the conservative government-supported war machine versus the peace-loving, mind-expanding flower children known as hippies. Even though drugs were a mainstay of the majority of the counterculture, it was not a given that every person that was left of the mainstream was an automatic drug user. I disagree with Bob Dylan’s theme of the 1960s and Woodstock. I believe the theme was “make love not war”… not “Everybody must get stoned.”

 [2]    The 1960’s were filled with strikes, striving for civil rights by African American, anti-war demonstrations, draft resistance, and Vietnam War issues. The horrors of the war in Vietnam dramatized what many saw as a drift towards destruction, and their reaction was to seek a genuinely peaceful and loving way of life. Across the world, youth took up the slogan "Make love not war," signifying the emergence of a new generation. Many of these were hippies who dropped out of conventional society and took up a lifestyle based on peace, loving relationships, and mystical religions.

[3]    Because of the political and social unrest which surrounded the hippie generation, many people questioned what was familiar to them. Who is the real you? How can you find out? How can we come into contact with our true feelings of self and individuality? The growth of critical ideas soon spread to criticisms of basic psychological thoughts. Marijuana and LSD seemed to meet this need for some people. Many felt that LSD could liberate their true inner selves. The chemical could break down the walls that socialization had built around them, and the societal pressure to assimilate. However; there were many other methods and techniques used as a means of liberation and mind expansion such as yoga, meditation, and mystical religious practice.

[4]    In the movie, Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music, a reporter was shown interviewing a girl during the Woodstock festival. The two characters discuss how the girl had been up for 30 hours. The reporter immediately jumped to conclusions and assumed that the girl was using drugs. However, in reality she really was not on drugs but, rather, high on life. Many hippies did use drugs to expand their minds and become more aware of reality. They wanted to focus on feelings and fantasy rather then logical and rational thoughts. Their goal was to capture pure feeling, to “experience more closely bodily states, to escape from ego and superego and societal constraints and live fully in the here and now.” In the movie, there were some people who did not use drugs to expand their minds. Instead they tried yoga and meditation to achieve a mental state of calmness, intense pleasure and heightened sensory perception and enhanced creative efforts. The goal of meditation is to bring about greater use of an individual’s full potential and brings added energy and greater mind-body coordination.

[5]    Woodstock was the consummate festival of life. It was also a hippie commune haven but not a drug fest. Grouped together for one weekend was an amalgam of artists, hippies, music lovers, and teenagers looking for freedom and fun. It was one of the major climaxes of the 1960’s: a culmination of all of the peace and love ideals in one place. Drugs were definitely a part of the Woodstock experience, but everyone did not unconditionally utilize them. The stereotypical prototype of the concert attendee was a drugged out, wild, naked person. There were however a people at Woodstock who came solely to enjoy the musical and artistic experience without chemical enhancement.

 [6]    “This is your brain -- this is your brain on drugs. Any questions?” Drug use for anything other than medicinal purposes is totally unacceptable. I do not support the recreational use of chemicals or as a means to escape reality. Political unrest has occurred throughout history; however, the use of mind enhancing chemical does not solve the differences of agreement between the opposing parties. People come to a census by sharing feelings, thoughts, and ideas, and making compromises. Drug use only clouds judgment and distorts your perception of reality. The hippies’ goals were to create a utopia of tenets of freedom, free love, open-mindedness, and love for all. They wanted to explore their own feelings and be empathic of private feelings, inner states, and emotions. Drugs are not the only means of finding deeper feelings, emotional experiences, and expanding consciousness. There were many other methods of mind-expanding techniques that many of the counterculture used in order to seek heightened consciousness. Drugs are drugs whether it is the year 2000 or 1960. What are we teaching future generations if we say that the only way to deal with hard times and political unrest is by drugs?

[7]    The hippie culture arose as a result of vast political changes occurring in America and beyond… not as a direct result of drugs. Not everyone that led an alternative lifestyle took part in the drug aspect of the culture or believed that drugs were the answer to the issues that arose from this difficult era.  I think that drugs were a by-product of the hippy culture, but by no means a reason for its occurrence. The political and social milestones, I believe were directly responsible for the evolution of the hippy culture. These milestones affected everyone of that generation, one way or another, either directly or indirectly. Hippies changed the way people thought. Their imprint is inextricably interwoven into the culture of the sixties. They have made their footprint in recorded history forever.