I REMEMBER everything, like it was yesterday. My hair was long and society didn’t like it. People judged me by its length.
I couldn’t understand that, and it ticked me off. It drove me away from the conventional mores of that time and sent me in a different direction.
The ‘70s were such a different time from today. Technology has changed the world in leaps and bounds since then.
But has society changed? Not so much I think. We’ve seemed to have retained all the hate and prejudice that thrived in those previous eras.
Just as it is today, polarization was alive and well in the ‘70s, although you never heard that particular word till the ‘90s.
The world was upside down, and what seemed right to the majority was actually wrong. What we as long haired youths stood for was never taken seriously, and what happened as a result was sad.
We were mired in an unjust and un-winnable war, people’s rights if they had any at all were being trampled on or ignored.
Gays were fags, women were subjugated and African Americans enjoyed even less respect than they do today. Back then people said the “n word” out loud. When we grew our hair long, we voluntarily joined the ranks of these oppressed groups.
What really galls me about that era, and to make a long story short, is that we were right and they were wrong. It gives me no great pleasure to say this, because so many young lives were sacrificed for such inane and insane reasons. Apologies came late if at all.
“What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground?” Ever really think of those Neil Young words in today’s context?
They actually happened at Kent State, and we felt them greatly. They continue to happen today, and are spurring the same riots that occurred in the ‘70s.
Those poor kids were not the only, but certainly one of the reasons why I grew my hair long. Another was I did not want to be associated with the face that our nation was showing the world and revealing to itself. I was brought up to expect so much more from our country.
The hate, the prejudice and discrimination I felt by growing my hair, placed me apart from the accepted norm of the day. When I did this, society revealed itself to me. They showed me how they really felt, what they really stood for, and all of I a sudden I found out it wasn’t me.
It was a misguided ideal that they felt the need to cling on to. They feared anything or anybody that threatened their beliefs and existence. Sounds kind of familiar to nowadays doesn’t it?
You loved me America. When I toed your line, I was one of you. Yet I was a traitor when I dared to think differently. You had no respect for a favorite son if he dared to express himself in a different manner.
I was now trash. Harsh words I know, but I lived them and attest to it. It was their world and I was supposed to conform to it, yet I found out I wanted no part of it.
They say we dropped out of society. Nonsense! We were there the whole time, trying to get them to look inwards instead of out.
Our hair was the symbol of our consciousness. If they’d only had a conscience they’d have understood.
It was more to me than just growing my hair. It was something that I took very seriously It meant that I wasn’t going to accept the status-quo, which in my mind was misguided.
It meant I was different.
It meant that I cared.
I see all these nostalgia shows that purport to portray that era. They call us “hippies,” they all portray us as drugged out idiots in tie dye shirts using terms such as “groovy.”
They trivialize the whole experience of living through that era and belittle the social accomplishments that we actually did achieve through our hirsute protest.
All accomplished without the benefits of today’s social media and technology. Yes we were portrayed in the media, but 99% of the time it was by mainstream outlets and then always in a negative vein.
I’m here to tell you, it wasn’t like that at all. At least not for me. For me it was about making and taking a stand against discrimination, against imperialism, against prejudice, against people forcing their myopic views on the rest of us.
As well as hair, it also took cojones.
As silly as it sounds today, the length of my hair was my symbol of protest. It said I was different from you. It said I don’t believe what your saying, and I don’t buy into your ignorance.
Despite the comic way history now depicts us, I can honestly say that I never took LSD, I never wore tie dye and somehow I missed out on all that free love.
All I did was make a stand. I let my freak flag fly. As small a contribution as it nowadays seems, it meant something to me.
David Crosby spoke once in song about almost cutting his hair. “It happened just the other day. It was getting kind of long. I could have said it got in my way.”
But he didn’t, and you know why?
Because he felt like he owed it to somebody.
I did too!