Growing up in Boulder as a high school teen in the late 60’s, I may have given my mother a panic what with the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll scene, but I think it also shaped some of my core values. I worked in one of the leather shops on Broadway near Central Park so in the summers when 10,000 hippies came to camp in the nearby mountains and nearby parks, I was in heaven.
I was a couple of years younger than lots of the hippies in town, but I had long hair and a beard so I could pass for one when I would join a march protesting the Viet Nam war, make a leather belt for Elton John, live in a commune with Laura Joplin (Janice’s sister) or play my guitar at an outside concert.
I was not very politically savvy but I was a nervous wreck about my draft number coming up. Two of my best friends enlisted so that they could choose which branch of the military to serve in rather than potentially be thrown into the frontline madness of a war none of us understood.
After I graduated from C.U. I went to Kent State with my ’47 chartreuse Chevy ½ ton pickup. As some of you know, I’d hoped to get my Ph.D. in archaeology there but after a year I started studying Greek instead because God and some of God’s conspirators had put the hair-brained idea in my head that I should become a pastor.
The city of Kent, where the university is, had not recovered from the shootings a couple years earlier when the Ohio National Guard killed four students just days after President Richard Nixon announced his “Cambodian Campaign” despite having promised to end the Viet Nam war.
Often when people or movies refer back to this time in our history it’s with nostalgia for tie-dye and bellbottoms or poking fun at the anti-war idealists putting daisies in rifle barrels. That might be why I have always loved the song Nick Lowe wrote in 1972, which was popularized by Elvis Costello:
“As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity
I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?
And each time I feel like this inside
There’s one thing I wanna know:
What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding?”
Nothing but peace love and understanding (one of my core hippie values that Jesus still calls me to);