Folk Song/Chant—Childrens


(hold up forefinger and middle finger, palm facing out)

“Number One”

(hold up only forefinger)

“Save the Hippies”

“The world is a round.”

(using forefinger of each hand, draw a square in the air. Two fingers start at the middle top of the square, and the square is drawn symmetrically.)

Kimberly told me that her friend at school taught her this short chant. Her friend learned this from her older brother in 5th grade. They all go to school together on Harding Street, El Selmar. She chants this with her friend during recess or PE classes. They do this especially during PE, because that is when kids from other classes will see it—Kimberly and her friend hope to get this chant to spread in their school.

When asked what this chant means, she just shrugged and said “I don’t know, it’s just for fun.” But then she said it is “a little bit about charity,”—just saying they’d like peace and people should help the hippies. When I asked her what hippies are, she told me that they are “people on the streets” who are homeless and poor.

I chuckled at this answer, and thought immediately that this children’s chant reflects our changed attitudes towards hippies. Hippies were never mainstream, but at one time they were politically cutting edge, they had radical messages of peace and love, and they were some of the first conservationists. Today, however, I notice that the word ‘hippies’ paints a picture of a very different people—and they need to be ‘saved.’ Modern stereotypes of hippies have very little to do with liberal politics, instead hippies are now associated with drug use, unreasonable new age beliefs, and poor tastes in attire. It is no wonder that 4th grader Kimberly thought that “the hippies” were “people on the streets” who need to be “saved.”

Yet interestingly enough, despite Kimberly’s interpretations, I still feel like this chant retains some of the original ideas of hippies—particularly in regards to pacifism and environmentalism. “Peace, number one,” it goes—it sounds like peace should be our number one priority. Then “Save the Hippies” echoes many conservationist mottos, such as “Save the whales,” “save the trees,” or “save our planet.” I think it could be either an urge to save the hippies by supporting their cause to save the earth—or a parody that makes fun of ‘the hippies,’ suggesting that although they try to save the earth, ‘the hippies’ need to be saved themselves. Lastly, the enigmatic last line: “The world is a round,” while the fingers draw a square. Perhaps this is a reminder that everything in our world is connected—like a circle? Perhaps this is saying that in our world, what goes around comes around? Perhaps it means that our world must be round, but something is terribly wrong with it, because the hand movements suggest that it is not at all round? I’ve not a sure guess exactly what this last line means, or if it even has a meaningful implication, being a child’s chant, after all—but my gut feeling says that there is a concern with the environment somewhere in there. This would make sense, because even the kids must have caught on that the present society have recently become obsessed with “being green.”

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