hopeful words from a Smith College sophomore

Posted on May 21, 2008
Filed Under Connecting the '60s to today | Leave a Comment

Hello there,

I am a 22 year old Smith College student (Psychology major, Religion minor, 2010). I am currently finishing up a class titled Religion, Nature and Environment in which one of my classmates asked each of us to ponder the question, “what is the difference between the “hippies” of the 60′s and 70′s, and the environmentalists of today?”

It’s nearly impossible for me to come up with a cohesive list of thoughts, as each one that rattles my brain ranges from hope, to anger, to despair about the global climate crisis, the war(s), the lack of compassion in the world, desensitization, the increase of injustice and the like.

To sum up my following thoughts, these are the differences that I’ve noted tonight: Science, knowledge of probable death by global warming, loss of innocence, and a greater reliance on modern comforts. Current environmentalists (including and especially myself) are more likely to struggle with cynicism, and realism vs idealism.

* We would enjoy hugging a tree, but we know that *that* alone won’t solve global warming.

* We are equally fed up with our government and “the war…”

* how the hell was Bush elected twice? Why hasn’t someone more capable come into power?

* We may protest — there was one on campus yesterday against the war–, but youth in general are more likely to pass on an email urging others to boycott something or “Go Green.”  I pray this will change. We need change. We need to speak to our fellow humans and stop relying on computers to facilitate our communication. Note the sadness and irony I feel in emailing this to you….

* today, activism becomes more organized and widespread.

* young women are sick and tired of our objectification in the media and the anorexic pressures that are thrust upon us, and yet (statistically) we still let the images break our self-esteem. The majority of us still diet, wear bras, rely on makeup to feel beautiful, and dye our hair. I pray this will change before my niece grows up.

* I cannot comprehend why violence in the media sells. It’s disgusting.
It has hurt us. It’ll continue to hurt the youth of tomorrow unless something changes.

* our culture can be completely stifling! only when I hear of Eco-nuns, counterculture, anti-war protests, etc., is my hope temporarily revived.

* Some current environmentalists might be tempted to revive “free love,”
but we won’t for fear of AIDS…

*** I believe that “hippies” had a purity to their beliefs and a sweet semi-naivety about them (“all will be well if we have peace within”….
“one person can change the whole world”… etc). In the current age of information and scientific explanations of global warming, we don’t have that cognitive luxury. We can admire those beliefs, but at the same time we know that the majority of developed nations and citizens must also prescribe to those beliefs in order to save us from doom.

* “hippies” began their movement out of love for the earth; the majority of people who are going green now began for anthropocentric reasons. I pray this will change.

* “hippies” tended to embrace simplicity in financial status, homes, clothes, etc., and shunned materialism.  Today’s environmentalists are more likely to try to make a fortune off of their beliefs, wear “organic mineral make-up,” and own a hybrid car or a big house with solar panels.
Sad. I hope this too, will change.

I hope my thoughts may prove fruitful and that peace may someday reign.

With hope,



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