Flying the Flag

Last night I went to the San Francisco Film Festival to see a documentary film about the poet Gary Snyder called Practice of the Wild. (I thought it was okay, not great.) I was reminded by the film and by the audience where my real allegiance lies: with the counterculture. By “counterculture” I mean the movement that started with the Beats in the late 1940s and peaked in the 1960s and early 1970s with the hippies and so on. I think it’s an unfortunate term in that it stresses our opposition to the current world order rather than the world we would like to see. But people know what you mean when you say it. Today, the movement is small and weak, but it isn’t dead. Most folks think it was all about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but I never saw it that way. The core of it was about recovering real values. But it was only a first effort, and it floundered when the powers-that-be (through their puppet Ronald Reagan) put their foot down, insisting that it was all about money and power.

Suzuki Roshi, the Japanese man who founded Zen Center here in San Francisco, once said that the hippies needed to become “super-hippies.” I think he meant that, yes, love is the answer, but to realize love requires a very serious effort. And yes, there must be justice, but there can never be justice until we are just in our smallest, every-day transactions. I don’t think you can argue with that. And because the culture-at-large is more serious about money than it is about love and justice, I cannot give my heart to it. So I’m letting my freak flag fly.

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One Response to “Flying the Flag”

  1. Margaret Says:

    Yes. I always felt that at the deep heart of the counterculture movement was a conviction as serious as Rilke”s quote: “You must change your life.” Just as simple and profound as that.

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