The civil rights movement. Free love. The Pill. The Beatles. Easy Rider. Mary Quant. Swinging London. Midnight Cowboy. Jimi Hendrix. Woodstock… From a decade threatening to collapse into the abyss of post war austerity, racism and rampant misogyny – like a phoenix bursting from the ashes of the 50s wasteland, the 60s soared high, with its signature kaleidoscopic colours, and ignited an exciting explosion of political activism, music, fashion and of course everyone’s favourite subject – sex. The 60s was the decade that saved civilisation and reminded humanity the potential for good that it was always capable of.
However, you can’t bask in the nostalgia of the 60s without taking the time to remember its golden child – the hippies, the 60s greatest gift to the world. Unlike previous subcultures fuelled by small town mentalities and separatist ideologies, the hippie subculture on the other hand, nurtured and encouraged a higher state of being and seeing. For instance, at the heart of their fabulous existence was a romantic fixation with peace and love above anything else. In between acid trips, the hippies sooner concerned themselves with opposing government totalitarianism and the war in Vietnam, rather than fighting other groups on beach fronts like the mods and rockers seemed to enjoy doing.
The hippie movement was defined by two monumental characteristics: first, its rejection of societal norms and the predominate culture, opting instead to construct its own narrative and follow its own leaders, musicians rather than politicians. While the second, and more significant, was the ideology that the young possessed within themselves the power to make serious change in the world, and they didn’t have to rely on the men in suits to do so, their voices were powerful enough without them. And it’s this very sentiment that prevails today – the power of youth. With the help of online platforms and the wider media, activists are increasingly becoming younger and more revolutionary; Jazz Jennings (15) and her championing of trans visibility, Malala Yousafzai (18) and her commitment to educating young women and Emma Watson (26) and her insistence on men being a part of the feminist movement. Thanks to the hippies in the 60s, young people today feel empowered enough to try and make a real difference.