One of these old films, together with books such as Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf or Tom Wolfe’s Electric Cool Aid Acid Test, influenced me more than my parents would probably have liked: Woodstock. It is worthwhile watching it again from today’s perspective with a reasonably good sound system and, imperatively, a good rhythmical as well as nervous and sensory system. At the time, the Vietnam war was in full swing including the full arsenal of patriotic propaganda which was part of everyday life in the USA.
What was the response of the hippie movement to this disaster? Love and peace, sometimes combined with great art such as Jimi Hendrixʼs epoch-making interpretation of the American national anthem in Star Spangled Banner; sometimes through the work of the Hog Farm with Wavy Gravy which was as loopy as it was imbued with love of human beings and which cared for those in need of help or those who had fallen; but above all through those who transformed their feelings of grief, fear and horror about the war into new forms of coexistence with other people and the living earth.
That was the spiritual core of the hippie movement. Today we are once again standing in front of a threshold at which we have to decide how we wish to continue. This time, however, it is eating even more deeply into what we are because we are dealing with a virus which has jumped over to us from maltreated nature, from the abused animal world. Everything that has happened so far holds a mirror up to us which makes things visible we have long sought to repress: how do we handle our fear of an uncertain future? What do we do with the knowledge we have about the state of nature, the earth, our fellow human beings in the poorer regions of the world at whose cost we have partied for so long? Do we simply project our fears on to coronavirus expert Christian Drosten, Bill Gates, Angela Merkel, the WHO or whoever else happens to be at hand?
Or can we manage to recognise ourselves as the actual centre of this crisis for which we alone are responsible? Can we hear Mother Earth calling “wake up”? Can we finally understand that the way in which we form our thoughts, how we learn to feel, what we think and learn to think, what we feel will be crucial for the further development of the world? The COVID-19 crisis is a crisis of consciousness which we can only overcome if we make a peace with nature which does not stop at slogans. Evolution gifted us with these forces of consciousness. The time has come to gift them back to the earth.