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.