Freegans and Hippies: Counter Culture Movements

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Ohg Rea Tone is all or nothing. He is educated and opinionated, more clever than smart, sarcastic and forthright. He writes intuitively - often disregarding rules of composition. Comment on his posts - he will likely respond with characteristic humor or genuine empathy. He is the real-deal.

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Freegans and Hippies: Counter Culture Movements

Son,

I read your post on Freegans with great interest.  The interest of a father and grandfather, and the interest of one who was once called a hippie.

Back in my hippie days many of us thought of ourselves as the first great generation to “change the way we think about our culture,” to quote your post.  The hippie movement was infused with shreds of truth, lending credibility to the whole nonsensical tirade of counter culture behavior.

The hippie movement stumbled along at a convenient time for change.  Two real movements were happening simultaneously with the hippie phenomenon – The Civil Rights Movement, and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement.   The hippies used these legitimate challenges to misguided culture to validate and justify a variety of lifestyle behaviors.

We had all sorts of clever slogans and sayings: “Make love, not war,”  “There are no watches, only time,”  “The power of love, not the love of power.”  Would Jesus himself have argued with these lofty witticisms?  Most of the hippies I knew, and I include myself in retrospect, were self righteous buffoons, using a movement to justify ourselves as something better than other people.  Look at us, we would figuratively say, look at our sacrifice, at our practice of peace and love, at our desire to commune with nature and other people.

I looked at the web site you referenced on Freegans.  Here is their opening quote:

Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed.

Hey – pass the joint and get down with this. What are those freegans smoking?  I don’t mean to be disrespectful – but we limit the word volume of our posts.

“Reality is where we exist, the ideal is where we live.” – cut in stone on the face of the Nelson Art Gallery in Kansas City.  I admire the youthful vigor and determination of the Freegans.  I suspect that many of these young folks think they have finally found the solution to age old class warfare.  And it is class warfare.  Our readers will note that I regularly fight that war.  Enter ‘class warfare’ in your google search engine and see what you get.

The Freegans,  like the hippies before them, strike me as folks who are more proud of being different than they are of the actual differences.   We see this righteous phenomenon playing out in churches across all continents – ‘our faith is better than yours’ bulls—.  The vanity of righteous faith, Catholic, Baptist, Freegan, or Hippie, is the height of hypocrisies.

You mention ‘a dash of humility.’  Being humble does not mean being humiliated.  Being humble does not mean lowering one’s standards of self dignity.   Being humble means having a healthy pride in being a part of honorable humanity.

Put the Freegans and the Hippies in the context of historical counter-culture movements and they come up lame, self serving, and irrational.  While there is value in pointing out excess – and sometimes these small movements spark real change – the real changes are effectively executed by rational beings who are inclusive of all humanity, truly humble people.   Buddha, Jesus, St. Francis of Assisi, Henry David Thoreau, and Gandhi are better examples of motivating real change in abhorrent materialistic, power hungry, greed driven cultures.

Dad

See: The Freegan Insurrection

There Are 2 Responses So Far. »

  1. Hi!

    First of all, I’ve never met you before. I hold you in high regard simply because you are Bryan’s father. Living with Bryn in community for a year was huge to me…not the least being the fact that I value Bryan as a great friend and fellow Christian. So that should be a compliment to you for raising such a fine son. And by the way, that’s not to discredit you in any way, just to give you the perspective from which I write. :) I’ve enjoyed reading your posts for the last few months and really appreciate you both taking the time to write down your thoughts.

    Secondly, now that we have some background on who in the world is commenting, I’m not a freegan. Mostly because I don’t know exactly what that means. I don’t think I’ve ever been to the freegan website (is there one?). And I work (kind of) at Costco, a materialistic capital, for goodness sakes. I do, however, acquire much food for my wife and me out of the local grocery dumpsters. (does that make me a freegan?) This week alone, I’ve “redeemed” bread, fresh vegetables and cans of vegetables, cheese, juices, cake mixes, spaghetti sauce, sodas, and plenty of junk food (right, throw the sodas in that category). I do that for several reasons…it reduces waste, it helps tremendously with our grocery budget (which in turn enables us to share more with those in need), and it’s kinda fun. Simultaneously, I do realize that many of the ideals the freegans supposedly embrace (like generosity, community, sharing…) are extremely important to me.

    Here are my questions. How do we live out the values that we do feel are important and make sure that we’re not becoming a part of a hypocritical, self serving movement? Is it possible to speak against a culture of excess (or a culture of massive consumption/consumerism, like reverend billy and the church of stop shopping) and not become an ineffective “hippie”?

    I’ll add that I ask these questions sincerely, not to make a point. I want to make sure that when my wife and I live counterculturally, it isn’t just to be countercultural. I feel like we’ve already thrown a wedge in the “class warfare” diagram by our lifestyle choices…but just because we’re “upper class dumpster divers” doesn’t mean we have more to say than someone who fits snuggly into our nation’s class system.

    I am proud of how my wife and I live. I’m not too proud, though, to learn from someone who’s lived more than my 31 years and who’s a lot smarter than I. So send the humility my way.

  2. Daniel,

    As you noted, we have never met. Your recommendation by Bryan is enough for me to also hold you in high regard. I have been pleased with his maturity; his time in community in Nashville was healthy and rewarding for him.

    We live in a difficult world. The values preached in church and by our parents do not play out very well in practice. I live in a very conservative (understatement) community. Most of these folks like just fine – but they dismiss me as some kind of loony liberal. In that regard, my very essence is counter culture.

    Writing these posts is a great challenge – because I am writing to my son. I am a competent and opinionated writer – but my writing on this site is tempered by the reality that I write to my son. Being a responsible father overrules counter culture opinions. I write honestly – but carefully. Occasionally I get on a ripping tear – and then I have to apologize.

    Back to Bryan – he is blessed. He took his basic personality from his very kind and thoughtful mother. He managed to take my zaney crazyness and temper it with her gentleness – the result is a very fine young man. We put the ingredients on the table – he decided how he was going to mix , season, and cook.

    Daniel, and the other folks in Nashville, thanks for your contribution to my son’s life. He is better for it.
    Ohg Rea Tone

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