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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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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."