Republicans, Christians and Hippies
by Glenn McReynolds
It was Sunday morning. I was living and working in North Wales at the time. It was one of those cool but sunny Welsh mornings…too incredible to describe really. When a knock came on the door. It was a guy I had come to know. His name was Chris. Now Chris was a hippy. I mean a HIPPY…a real one. Not a fake ‘look at me aren’t I cool’ hippy. But he was the real McCoy. A hippy when nobody was looking hippy. Me? Well, I wasn’t a hippy. I am many things both good and bad, but a hippy I wasn’t. I am however a Republican and worse yet, a Christian. So, Chris and I had some differences.
I, an American whose ‘Republicanism’ ran deep found himself spending a lot of time with people like Chris. I had my small government, lower taxes, pro-life Christian worldview that I was sure Chris couldn’t possibly understand. Chris had his ideas too. Most of them made me smile…all the anti-establishment notions, personal freedoms, sharing the planet in peace…true hippy ideology. I thought that stuff was dead with Woodstock! But here in North Wales it was alive and well! Frankly, it made it hard for me to take him seriously. I reminded him a few times that it was in fact the new millennium and not the 60’s any longer, but that didn’t seem to bother him. He would smile at me with one tooth missing on his right side. Chris had long blonde hair. He was thin and didn’t trouble himself much with fashion or personal hygiene for that matter. But he always had a smile and his brilliant blue eyes were as warm as his personality.
This day he was bringing me and my friend some chickens. Yes chickens. And not just one….several chickens and a Rooster. He unloaded the chickens refusing payment and drove off in a clunker of an automobile. I stood there waving, half smiling, wondering what I would do with 6 chickens. However, it wasn’t long before we were gathering fresh eggs and watching little baby chicks run over our feet. It was my first experience with the interesting creatures. I actually liked it.
Sometime later Chris bought a piece of furniture from my friend. He really didn’t want it but he bought it because my friend needed the money. That gesture was followed by a phone call of support that was much needed in the middle of a crisis about a month later. I began to see Chris in a different light. Chris had developed (unknown to me) a reputation that he was a good friend.
I had to occasionally make stops over to Chris’ house to drop something off or to pick something up. I would never go just for a visit. I thought I couldn’t handle all of the “love and peace “ conversation that seemed to ooze from his place…it was more than this Republican could stand. Every time I went there his home was always unlocked…always. And people were always there…always. Whether he was or not. Chris lived alone but you would have never guessed it.
What was even more strange is that he always wanted me to come in and sit with him and have a cup of tea or just to chat. It wasn’t obligatory-it was real. He liked my company, even though I didn’t care much for his. Either he didn’t know that or he overlooked it. The more I got to know Chris the more I believed the latter. And the more I got to know Chris, the more I learned about myself.
Chris had something very odd about him…he lived what he believed. The man put his money where his mouth was. He said we were butchering our forests. So Chris stopped using toilet paper…yes, no toilet paper! That’s all we will say about that. He allowed no chemicals in his home. Only natural cleaners, soaps and shampoos. Chris would fight for anyone getting a bad rap. Especially if they were being bullied by a large corporation or crooked politician. I learned to listen to him. Not just to his words but his life. I had all the arguments for his hippy-like peaceful existence he longed for. But his life resonated something deep inside of me…living what you believe, loving everyone regardless, justice for all, enjoying life and praying for genuine peace across the globe. How can you really be opposed to that? I wasn’t, but remarkably, I somehow sounded like it.
Chris lived in a very moderate home, despite his family of origin. Chris’ parents were wealthy. Chris was from “good stock” as it were. His folks lived in a posh English village worlds away from their Son. Chris loved the beauty of Wales and found it to be a sanctuary. His beliefs put him at odds with his parents and their lifestyle. He doesn’t talk to them much and as I understand it, is left out of their will. But that is Chris.
Chris knew that I was more of ‘the establishment’ than he cared for. But he chose to treat me otherwise. At a minimum he didn’t prejudge me, as I did him. In truth I found much of his politics easy to dismiss as naïve, silly or at worst idealistic. But Chris must have found my politics repugnant and against everything that he was about…he demonstrated amazing tolerance. Tolerance that I could not…no…did not demonstrate to him. He also showed me an acceptance I did not find in my own country from even my own family. As a divorced Pastor Chris allowed me to see love and acceptance that I hadn’t seen from my Christian family and church going friends at home. Chris wasn’t a Christian but he lived like one, more than anyone I knew, including myself.
I have long since left my Welsh friend in that old country of North Wales. But I miss him and those like him. I have decided that I like hippies. At least those like Chris.
It is true, some people are moral and some people are good. Those two are not mutually exclusive but often they seem to be. Moral folks are good very often because they have to be. Good people are good because they are. Chris would not call himself immoral, but most of us might. I just call him good.
These days this Republican finds himself being concerned with fresh water and its supply for my children and grandchildren. I grow weary of administrations that ignore the basic responsibility to care for this amazing planet God has given us. I ache that good men are forced to fire hot lead into another mans skull in the name of something we call honorable and right. I cringe under the thought that this country’s freedoms are often earned on the backs of the poor. I hurt that good men and women are imprisoned due to an insane war on drugs. I find myself listening to Chris some 3000 to 4,000 miles away. I am not the Republican I once was. My politics have a thread of…well, Chris running through it. For this I am glad.
It is Sunday morning back in America. No chicken deliveries this morning. Sadly, I don’t know any Chris’ in this part of the world. Oh they are out there but hardly noticeable. Unfortunately I wont sit by any in church today. Shame too…I would like that.
Being a hippy doesn’t make you better than being a Republican or vice versa. There are however, great differences between the two. But most of us Republicans (and Democrats for that matter) wouldn’t want to have Chris in our homes, much less hear what he has to say about our world. But Chris would have us…and would do so gladly. And that may be the most critical difference of all.
Posted by: Glenn McReynolds
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