My grandmother Giggy wasn’t a hippie. She was born too early for Free Love and was a twice married mother of four by the time of Woodstock. She carried a mild disdain for hippies, much like the average paid Boomer screed hating on Millennials. She thought they were young and foolish, idealistic and impractical.
And yet, in a thousand little ways, the Christian lifestyle she proposed mirrored the values and practices of dedicated hippies. Giggy preached the superiority of home birth and abstention from vaccines. She taught her followers not to trust doctors. She promoted a model of family independence that included a vegetable garden, homemade simple clothes, and meals cooked from scratch.
As I’ve written before, Giggy did not practice what she preached, with the exception of eschewing medical care. She had five hospital births (including four c-sections) and all her daughters were vaccinated before she became a faith healer. She only grew annual flowers in her garden, mostly Impatience. Our veggies came from the store, paid for out of my mom’s meager TA salary, and our clothes were church handmedowns
The political far right and far left wrap around society in two different directions, yet the meet at their farthest ends. Strong distrust of government, independence leaning toward isolation, natural remedies in lieu of medicine, and a preference for homeschooling and home birth are hallmarks of both the left and the right, provided they are far enough from center. Fundies and hippies share many lifestyle practices, yet virtually no core values.
My Giggy is the reason I can see connection between the conservative male anti-government fools who took over a bird sanctuary and the liberal female anti-hospital “birth warriors”. She was both. She was anti-government and anti-hospital and anti mainstream religion, because she resented male run institutions but was not a feminist. She still ended up, somewhat accidentally, in some feminist roles and places.
She was a twice divorced female preacher who taught that a woman’s place was married, barefoot, and pregnant. She was a hypocrite in the Sarah Palin model, although she told me in 2008 that she hated Palin for working while she had young children (which of course Giggy did too). For a long while I thought this connection between far left and far right was just a product of her hypocrisy.
Now I suspect that the two extremes have much in common. They are dissatisfied with the status quo. They feel the broader culture doesn’t represent them. Changes in modern life threaten them. They believe things were better in a simpler past. The far left and far right may not agree on how or why the world is broken, but that it is broken is no question. I’m not yet sure what to do with this insight, but I thought it worth mentioning all the same.