Having given birth to my oldest daughter in September of 1969, I’m among the members of my generation who didn’t go to Woodstock that summer. However, yesterday, it felt like I caught up with that whole scene at the 30th anniversary of the Harmony Festival in Santa Rose, CA. There was harmony happening at the Harmony Festival!
Walking through the gates was like entering another paradigm. You could cut it with a knife, the sense of joy, peace and harmony, that is. It’s just a choice, people go and consciously let down the barriers that normally exist between strangers and suddenly, everyone is family. It was amazing, and wonderful! And puzzling.
If we can buy a ticket and step through a gate and transform ourselves into trusting, open people who care about others, how come we don’t seem to be able to pull this off in our daily lives? How can we sing Kumbaya one minute and spew road rage the next? Or maybe the better question is: how can we continue to sing Kumbaya in the face of road rage? How can we maintain inner peace and harmony no matter what the outside circumstances?
I went primarily to hear Reverend Michael Beckwith and take in the music of his wife, Rickie Byers Beckwith, and the Agape Church choir. The day didn’t disappoint! For dessert, we got a surprise visit from Joan Baez, still looking fabulous after all these years. The crowd roared with delight at the music, which spoke of God, joy, freedom and self. Joan led us in Amazing Grace at the end. It was surreal!
An anthropologist or sociologist would surely believe she was witnessing a cultural “fringe” movement, given the “costumes” worn by the young people attending. I interviewed a couple to see if I could learn what they call this type of dress. They came up with words like “playful, free, edgy”. I call it “stylish grunge”.
All over the festival, booths were set up selling these articles of clothing together with the necessary accessories, like the hand-made moccasins or soft boots, the riveted belts with large leather pockets attached, feathered ear rings, yoga clothes. I was surprised to see so much leather being used. This was the eco-friendly, vegan crowd in attendance. What’s with the leather?
Beckwith summed it up perfectly for me, he observed there is a “mutant strain” of human being arising from the core of humanity. These people have mutated from the old paradigm of dominate and control, competition and survival to a new paradigm of co-operation, harmony, love and peace. This new strain of humanity is driven by ideals not politics. They share a vision for humanity that is slowly making its way through the river of our current conditioning.
They see they’re next in line to inherit the mess we’re leaving them. They’re not shirking from the task. They’re not being victimized by it either. They’re standing in the rubble of the present and making a choice to be creative about the future. They see what clearly hasn’t worked and are choosing very alternate routes for going forward.
Barack Obama is the embodiment of their ideals with enough real world savvy to know how to use those ideals to promote change on a massive scale. Maybe it’s my own idealism, but I’m starting to see the pieces come together in a way that sets the stage for the kind of global transformation of consciousness the world is witnessing today.
Stay tuned. The wheels are coming off and the old structures are crumbling to make way for whatever is next. We need to bet that this young generation is going to be vigilant about seeing their ideals become reality. Like the young people marching in the streets of Tehran today.
The world is in a precarious place. Who will you be today in your little corner of it to spread a little joy? That’s it. Just spread some joy today. Starting now……..