Right now in my U.S. History class we are learning about hippies. It’s really interesting to learn about the counterculture during the Vietnam War because most people in this generation only think of hippies as long haired, tie dye lovers. But in fact, the counterculture during the Vietnam War era was much more than that. The hippies started out as peaceful individuals concerned about their fellow Americans. They wanted to make a difference and make others realize that life wasn’t about material things. The hippie movement started in San Francisco, California in the Haight-Ashbury district. Here a small group of quiet, peaceful and loving hippies lived. They made sure everyone in their neighborhood had 2 meals a day, they put together little stores like the Salvation Army, to make sure everyone had clothing. Their idea was simple: live life peacefully and help others. Hippies didn’t work, because they felt a community could work together to support each other and that sitting in an office job just to make money was absurd. Of course, there were drugs too. But the original hippies handled these drugs well; they didn’t overdose and they didn’t walk around acting as a disturbance to the neighborhood. They took LSD, and this helped open their minds to new ideas; at the time LSD was completely legal.
The sad reality is the small community of hippies that lived and worked for the betterment of one another quickly ended. As summer approached, college students and bums began to move to San Francisco. They didn’t have the same values that the original hippies had, as many of them just came for the free food and drugs. And of course, any where that there are drugs, there is also violence. Soon, there were more hippies in San Francisco that the city could handle. The original inhabitants of San Francisco were angry; they felt that the counterculture had completely taken away their once medium sized town. As more and more people started taking LSD, the drug became widely available. People became to make bad decisions when taking LSD and they were having unprotected sex a lot, with people they didn’t know. A major part of the hippie movement was to love one another, and they took that literally. In one video we watched, a man who grew up as a hippie said, “You could meet a woman, go out and make love for the day, not say a word, and that was okay.” Due to this exploitation of sexuality, STD’s began to make their first major appearance. Syphilis was one of the many diseases that were common in the San Francisco area. It is sad to look back and see what the basic principles of being a hippie in the counterculture movement was, and then look and see how they were all ruined. Drugs violence became out of hand, people on drugs were making love with different people every day and spreading diseases, and the community eventually fell apart.