Living Simply, Joyfully, Refusing to Comply With Immoral Rules, Is a Revolutionary Act

Hermit, hippie, or scoundrel - O.B. Joyful in 1920

O.B. Joyful - 'America's First Hippie' - left an indelible legacy on Berkshire County where i grew up. He lived most of his years in Lanesborough, Massachusetts about 10 miles away from my hometown of Adams. He was born in the same year as my grandfather who knew him a bit and often, after a few Genesee Ales, would tell me stories about the "crazy old man" down the road a peice.

Joe Durwin reminds the readers of his recent article that O.B. Joyful was viewed in his time as a eccentric or a criminal depending on the viewer's perspective. Luckily for me, grandpa was a unique individual himself and allowed others the same right. Today's labels have expanded and now include hermit, renowned poet-philosopher and pioneer hippie. None the labels do him justice, as no label can for any of us. O. B. was a cultural revolutionary who lived his life close to nature. In an age of unquestioning reliance on 'growth' O. B. thrived by having and wanting less. O.B. joyful was a prophet for the coming age of 'Aquarius' in the '60's and '70's and an example for us all then and today that living simply is a revolutionary act.

O.B. knew in his bones and manifested in his actions what half a century later was being written about in the book 'Limits to Growth' which predicted our civilization would probably collapse due to our inability to live within nature's limits. Looking back now at the '70s or further back to O.B.'s time it's easy to see that modern 'civilization' by and large has never heeded those warnings and the delusion of self-centered endless material growth has brought the natural world that underlies all real wealth to its knees.

A few days ago The Mud Report wrote, in response to Chris Hedges article that 'Only Refusal to Cooperate Will Save Us From Totalitarian Capitalism', saying in part: "Humans do, hopefully, still have the capacity to say 'no'. Will they? Refusal to cooperate isn't easy. Refusal, individually and collectively, to capitulate can save us and make us whole as well." O. B. Joyful was both prophet for and example of how to live another way in the world, a way that fulfills the individual, the society and the nature's undeniable limits.

Hedges wrote: "...any act of civil disobedience ignites the soul of the rebel and exposes the dead hand of authority. It is only this refusal to cooperate that will save us." Refusal to comply, cooperate, capitulate with who? The fascist forces of corporate domination? The Machine? The Man? or the conditioning that 'civilization' attempts to pound into us from every corner in an attempt to form within each of us a uniform worldview from which escape is near impossible?

The materialist internal domination O.B. escaped is escapable by everyone. Escape isn't easy, but it is essential. There can be no freedom, there is no salvation without it. The Machine, The Man, Pirsig's Giant are created by the collective projections, the complicit dreams, of the prisoners of materialism. When a person complies, cooperates, capitulates to civilization's crass commands that person dies on the vine.

O.B. Joyful's actions, and mine to the best of my ability, show that living simply is a revolutionary act.