The 1960s

The 1960s

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The 1960s


It may have been a decade of a myriad of effulgent paintings and intrepid space excursions, but for most people, resplendent canvases don't come near the cranium when someone mentions the 1960s. So just what do we associate the decade with? The most intriguing part of our prior erudition: hippies, flower power, peace, love, drugs, and Woodstock! All of the preceding are the very essence of the '60s in America; all of them had a distinct impact on the world.

Presumably the most prominent aspect of the '60s was the evolution of the youthful generation into a powerful strong-minded group of people known as the hippies. Around the late '60s, there was a copious amount of young men and women who were just reaching their late teen years, re-evaluating their sentiment on important issues. But just what was a hippie? Hippies were mostly young people who were often characterized by long hair and flowing skirts. They had very confident convictions, particularly in regard to the Vietnam War. Because this new generation possessed a blatant loathing for the affect of Vietnam on the country, they rebelled against everything the war was about. This resulted in a shared conception of love, peace, and happiness. They held protests and anti-war love-ins promoting their ant-violence views, unity, and, also, drugs. Previously unmentioned, hippies were also druggies. Dr., Timothy Leary was a drug guru who was much loved for his preaching. He said things such as "Turn on, tune in, and drop out" and used new pronouns like "She" and "hir" to promote gender equality. He brought about a new philosophy that conceived that your state of consciousness is reflected in your environment. Leary had four exercises to a life of expanded intelligence: 1) Look at yourself in the mirror, change your manner of dress and your behavior so that you float like a god, not shuffle like a robot 2) Look around your home and throw out everything that is not "tuned in" to your highest vision 3) Make your body a temple and your home a shrine 4) You are a god, live like one!

As prevalent as hippies were, it astounds many people to hear that there was a subdivision of the group. Yippies, as they were called, were much like other hippies, only more extreme. The yippies were New Left radicals with a no-holds barred approach contesting every custom of society.

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Most often, they were hippies irate over the fact that love-ins and peaceful protests weren't accomplishing anything. Yippies did many eccentric things whilst fighting for their opinions so that their issues would procure media attention, thus illustrating to America that there were indisputable quandaries occurring in the country. This invoked more action towards the issue and, often, unprecedented controversy. Many of the crazy occurrences once deemed hippie-actions were, unequivocally, the work of a yippie group. One very active yippee was Jerry Rubin, who appeared before the House American Activities Committee wearing a Santa Claus Suit. Yippies were also pro-drug, only they vocalized their drug-related thoughts loudly enough for the entire world to hear. There were many speeches written advocating drug use, especially when the issue was marijuana. The authors of such speeches said things like "Marijuana makes each person God" and "It's never 'my dope,' it's 'our dope,' everything for everybody." These words helped illustrate how drugs could unite, which was the primary intent of yippies ubiquitously.

One thing hippies and yippies were accountable for was Flower Power. Flower Power was a peace movement designed to contribute to ending the Vietnam War. Hippies, mostly young women, handed out flowers to strangers who walked by. This unfurled the love and respect they retained for other people. However, flowers were more frequently distributed to police officers and pro-Vietnam demonstrators. This showed the love and respect they had for the beliefs of others, even if they differed from their own musings. The principal purpose of Flower Power was to help the country see that peace and unity were more important than aggression and dominance. There was a Flower Power love-in in the spring of 1967 in New York's Central Park. The love-in was a gathering of 10,000 people adorned in exotic hippie costumes and face and body paint. These people congregated for a day of music, dancing, drugs, and celebration. The Flower Power movement was also liable for many popular slogans, such as " War Is Not Healthy For Children And Other Living Things" and the infamous "Make Love Not War." In 1964, Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson were running for President. During the Presidential campaign, a very affective commercial aired. This commercial was fashioned by part of the Flower Power group and aired only a single time. It depicted a little girl pulling petals off of a flower, then a mushroom cloud. The twenty-second clip was talked about for years to follow, as were many of the Flower Power acts.

As important as hippies and flowers were, the defining event of the '60s took place in Bethel, New York, from August 15-18, 1969. The three-day event was held in a field owned by farmer Max Yasgur in the Catskill Mountains, just fifty-five miles away from the city of Woodstock; the location was changed at the last minute. There was abroad spectrum of music at the event, yet there was no pop, such as The Beach Boys or Sonny and Cher. Joan Baez, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Canned Heat, Country Joe and the Fish, The Band, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Joe Cocker, Arlo Guthrie, the Grateful Dead, Tim Harden, Jimi Hendrix, Richie Havens, Keef Hartly, Janis Joplin, The Jefferson Airplane, Melanie, Mountain, Quill, John Sebastion, Ravi Shankar, Sly and the Family Stone, Santana, Sweetwater, and The Who were some of the bands that played at the festival. Over half of a million people were in the audience, which was the equivalent of the fourth largest city at the time. The audience shared food, blankets, drugs, and bodies with each other. Babies were born during the three days. Although there was skinny-dipping, pot, and acid, there was not a single act of violence, thievery, or fighting. The stage was built by 300 hippies in exchange for two meals a day and all of the pot they could smoke. Hell's Angels were hired as the security, helping to portray the casual air of freedom at the festival.

The 1960s helped define our country today. If it weren't for the bold defiance of a violent oppressed nation, we wouldn't be able to exercise many of the freedoms that we now deem human rights. We've learned that through demonstration, the people can induce changes on the national level. We can always look back on the generation to remind us that the United States of America is still all about "We, the People."
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