With over 58,000 American soldiers dead permanently affecting their families and more than 150,000 people wounded in battle, many more disabled for life, destruction of acres of property, thousands of women and children tortured to death, there were countless other tragedies. These were the results of the colonial or the Vietnam war that took place from November 1, 1955 to April 30, 1975, in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Another repercussion of this bloody war, which brought about the biggest change in the history of the world was the "counterculture of 1960s'".
It was a cultural movement that initiated in the United States and United Kingdom, around 1956, but spread across the world by 1974. The movement however, gained momentum from the years 1965 to 72. During these years, the youth of America got down on streets to question the government and indirectly the world, about where was the humanity and culture. The movement was a conquest of coping with the 2 World Wars, Great Depression, Cold War, racial discrimination, and many other events that piled up in the past years. People wanted peace, which wasn't too much to ask. Read on to find more about this counterculture.
What was the Counterculture of 1960s'?
The definition of counterculture is "the particular behavior of a cultural group, triggered because of major social events, in order to oppose political and government policies". After the tremendous loss of lives and destruction of peace in the world that stretched from 1914 (start of World War I) till 1975 (end of Vietnam War), the youth of America (mostly the Baby Boomer population) and across the globe decided to put an end to wars of every kind.
They started anti-war and peace rallies, concerts, demonstrations, oppositions, candle marches, etc., which triggered a revolution of rebellion against any type of loss, for which the government was responsible. This was called the counterculture of the 1960s' and it made a groundbreaking change in the history of the world. The youth of America, were then joined by the youth of UK and the rest of the world. They all united in the "anti-war sentiment" to mark the end of the destruction in the form of a counterculture, and wrote a new culture for themselves.
The Happenings of the Counterculture
After the counterculture was started, it didn't take time for it to spread across the world, as the television played a very crucial role in the widespread. The baby boomer generation was that of bold and different youth, and they wrote, spoke, sang, and revolted about the various social issues that were left unspoken till then. There were many issues that were brought before the world, such as; racial segregation, freedom of speech, environmentalism, orthodoxy, traditional marriages, feminism, minority rights for women, handicapped, orphans, socially neglected and sensitive issues like sexual openness and homosexuality.
These issues were spoken about very openly and boldly changing the way the world looked at them. A number of related movements like the "gay liberation movement, civil rights movement, free speech movement, and the sexual revolution", were triggered because these social issues were brought up. This led to the acceptance of most of these facts by the people all over the world. There were many demonstrators and leaders who emerged to be heroes of this generation, from the counterculture.
To name a few, Che Guevara, Mario Savio, Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, Phil Ochs and Abbie Hoffman were young individuals who brought historic changes in the counterculture of the 1960s'. They influenced people through their speeches, music, folk-songs, street acts and by using their talents. When the counterculture ended in 1972, these youth surely believed that they had entered a "new world" that they made. There was freedom for everyone irrespective of their color, race, social background, name or sexuality, and no one judged but accepted each other as one of their own.
To conclude, I would like to share a quote by Abbie Hoffman, who was a political activist during this era. He said,
"We are here to make a better world. No amount of rationalization or blaming can preempt the moment of choice each of us brings to our situation here on this planet. We didn't end racism but we ended legal segregation. We ended the idea that you could send half-a-million soldiers around the world to fight a war that people do not support. We ended the idea that women are second-class citizens. We made the environment an issue that couldn't be avoided. The big battles that we won cannot be reversed. We were young, self-righteous, reckless, hypocritical, brave, silly, headstrong and scared half to death. And we were right."