In Search of Real Survival


| 9/16/2011 1:06:06 PM


Tags: Community, Old Ways, Vine Deloria, Hippies, Communes, Wilderness Way, "God is Red", Christopher Nyerges,

I had to chuckle when I heard a “survivalist” say that he’d like to see the collapse of society so that he could start over from scratch. Really? Why would someone sitting behind a computer, driving a truck, and buying what he needs at the local grocery store want things to fall apart? Though such persons are usually clueless as to what it actually takes to start a society “from scratch,” such sentiments do reveal a deep discontent with our current state of affairs.

History is full of folks who attempted to create a breakaway society, usually in search of a better, more idealistic, maybe even utopian, way of life. That’s how our American experiment began, at the expense of the Native Americans. This is how and why the Amish live they way they do, and persevere despite the ridicule of their neighbors.  

Hippies of the 1960s and ‘70s also tried to create separate communities, “communes,” where they could farm, dance and sing, and attempt to put into practice whatever religion and politics they developed.  Let’s examine the hippies.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Vine Deloria, Jr., for Wilderness Way magazine. Deloria was named by Time magazine as one of the greatest religious thinkers of the 20th century. Among his approximately two dozen books, he wrote God is Red, which Wilma Mankiller (former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation) called “the flagship book of Native American spirituality.” (Deloria passed away at age 72 in November of 2005).

Among other things, I spoke with Deloria about how hippies presumed to imitate Native Americans in both look and practices.

The reason that the hippie movement failed, Deloria told me, was not just because of drug use, though that was a significant factor. Hippies failed, said Deloria, because they failed to grasp the value of organizing tribally, and they ignored the value of customs. “I think they failed for lack of discipline and lack of commitment,” he said. “People tried to create communities from scratch and it didn’t work. People were sincere, but they often lacked anything in common except a rebellious spirit. And in fact, a lot of Indian communities today have the very same problem. Extreme individualism is chaos and unjust to everyone.”




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