FEATURE: Enter The Hippy

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Hugh thinks that, given how bad 2016 has been, whether 2017 is about peace, love and understanding…

No, I don’t want to screw 2016. I just want my goddamn poncho.

I want a poncho. Not just any poncho – a special poncho. Ideally woven from Peruvian alpaca wool. Organic hemp lining. Potentially multi-coloured. Potentially with tassels – although I’m willing to sacrifice that for an embroidered mandala on the back.

No, I’m not paying £80 from a shop on Park Street offering in-house aura readings, and no, I don’t need a complementary crystal healing guide. I just want a poncho.

I want a locally-sourced, fair-trade set of armor to protect me from the bombardment of videos of celebrities hurling their middle fingers up to the camera and yelling ‘screw 2016’.

No, I don’t want to screw 2016. I just want my goddamn poncho.

Yes, the past year hasn’t exactly been what I wished for on the stroke of midnight last New Year’s Eve.

The UK is no longer a member of the European Union, effectively becoming that one guy who decides to leave an admittedly dead party early, as opposed to trying to stick it out like everyone else, for the sake of the squad.

The US has now succeeded power from a hip young liberal with social media savvy to a talking parrot with the political views and experience of an old racist in a pub grumbling about ‘them bloody foreigners’.

Students are set to be in debt for the rest of their life. Fabric, a Mecca for the millennial generation, is under attack from a conservative argument. Honey G exists. Peak.

Honey G exists. Peak.

But where do we go from here? Do we condense our frustration to 140 characters alongside a hurtful meme? Do we add a filter to our facebook profile? Do we join in with that guy from Breaking Bad and, after all the shit we’ve been through, have nothing to say except ‘screw 2016’?

No. We need to take a page out of our fore-fathers book, go out, buy a goddamn poncho and become a goddamn hippy.

Now, bear with me for a moment. When someone says ‘hippy’, one may conjure up an image of a barefooted white man with dreadlocks, six-string in one hand, funny smelling cigarette in the other, ranting about corporate fat-cats and a Tesco on Gloucester Road; or an ex-Etonian, fresh from travels in South East Asia with a new found respect for the writings of Lao Tzu.

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We cast a scornful gaze at these unsung scruffy heroes, yet what they symbolize might just be the solution to a lot of our problems.

Admittedly, there is little to be gained from kicking around a hacky sack and smoking copious amounts of illicit substances, but this stereotype is solely based in an archaic collective eye-roll from an older generation. Refusal to play into corporate mind games and elect leaders that only offer a superficial façade of democracy is hardly conducive to the development of a money-driven establishment.

2017 is the time to reclaim love and acceptance, and bring back the flower power.

But there is more to this alternative lifestyle than wavey-garms and a taste for psy-trance. Hippy culture disregards the harsh, neo-liberal modern world, and seeks to embody and exude basic human ideals of love, freedom, happiness and inclusion.

So why the eye-roll? Somewhere along the way, these basic tenants of human existence have been taken away from us and been replaced with money, war and Amazon Prime. This isn’t okay, and this is not the world I want to grow up in. 2017 is the time to reclaim love and acceptance, and bring back the flower power.

As clichéd as it is, history repeats itself, and this isn’t the first time the world has looked back on a whole year with a collective sigh. Fifty years ago, western world leaders failed to represent their people. Words of bigotry silenced that of logic. War raged on overseas. Meanwhile, the disenchanted youth found liberation in sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.

The parallels seem clear – so, could 2016 be the beginning of a new cycle? Could Syria be our Vietnam? Is the Islington Council’s attempt to close fabric a government crackdown on our spaces of liberation? Is techno our rock’n’roll?

Just like the 60’s, there’s a huge philosophical rift between that of the youth and the establishment. In the UK, recent polls show that 72% of millennials voted to remain in the EU. Across the Atlantic, only 37% of young voters pledged their support to Donald Trump, with only 50% of people aged 18-29 participating in the election in the first place. The message is loud and clear – we do not stand for this. What we need now, more so than ever, is a neo-Hippy Revolution.

The message is loud and clear – we do not stand for this…

Thankfully, we need not look far to see the emergence of a new global psyche –  the hippy movement is not dead – it is alive and well in Bristol.

From a cramped bedroom in a 1000sq ft flat in Hong Kong I was naturally drawn to Bristol, images of the city characterized by community spirit, Tesco boycotts and club photos of dreadlocks swaying about in psy-trance raves.

Upon arrival, I was all but disappointed. The reputation is upheld by our beloved counter-culture community. They embody an alternative mindset; one of peace, environmental awareness, love, art and fun. Bristol is a functioning example that these values can, and will thrive in the modern world.

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A poncho is more than a poncho, bare-feet are more than a minor health and safety hazard. They are symbols of a philosophy which the world needs now more-so than ever – a philosophy which can change our future.

And the people have spoken – we are indeed on the cusp of a huge change. Although liberal media may slam Trump or Brexit supporters as uneducated bigots, the fact is that these are real people, and they too are fed up with the status quo.

The difference is, their actions and protests are rooted in negativity, fear and hostility. Yes, we want change, but not like this. The only way to fight back? Stuff daisies into the barrels of the gun, and fight for change based on love.

Vote ‘no’ – drop out, disassociate, disenfranchise and fight back.

We are the young, the optimistic, the ambitious. We do not want to be remembered as a generation of tension, but rather a generation of peace and love. We can make our mark, not through anger or negativity, but with love.

The world looks dark at the moment, but there is a psychedelic light at the end of the tunnel.

So let us look towards 2017 as not a further fall into darkness, but instead as an opportunity for a grand change to occur.

So put on those harems, blast your music as loud as you can, cast a dismissive eye at the racist squabbling going on in Parliament and become an embodiment of a new flower generation.

Vote ‘no’ – drop out, disassociate, disenfranchise and fight back.

But let the root of our abandonment be not hatred or prejudice, but of a yearning for something bigger, brighter and more beautiful.

Like my poncho.

Oh, hippies, you get a bad rep with all that peace love and understanding stuff. Tell us what it’s like being a modern hippy. Is it easier in hippy dippy Bristol? Tell us. Over on @rifemag. Let us know. Talk to us. We like talking.

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