The Psychedelic Sixties Essay

3460 words - 14 pages

     "Look what's happening out in the streets!" What better line to epitomize the feeling of the Americans throughout the chaos and turmoil of one of the most memorable decades in United States history, than this quote in the Jefferson Airplane song "Volunteers?" The people of the time were utterly awestricken by the horrors they were being forced to endure, and they decided they would do the best they could to publicize their total disgust for the United States' approach to its people. The 1960's was a decade to remember, a decade that drastically changed the lifestyles of so many people in the Western World. Not only were the people's lifestyles changing, but their country and government were undergoing various drastic and permanent transformations. Politics, ways of living, and beliefs were among the most prominent elements of change in the United States. At the beginning of the decade, the country grasped an optimistic attitude toward the future. The gradual improvement in relations between the U.S.A. and Russia made it seem that a nuclear war might yet be avoided. It looked like the country may actually prosper after the ever-so-powerful blow from World War II.
During this time of optimism, a "youth revolution" took place in dress, music, and values, and as a result, accepted ideas about sex, politics and religion were challenged. While at some points they tried to stray away from all the politics, many of these young people took lead roles in a great deal of the political unrest that swept over much of the world. This political unrest often ended in violence, which was a growing and disturbing feature of the 60's. Another social aspect that coincides with the 60's is the many civil rights movements and protests. By 1960, many people hoped and prayed for the equality of races in America, but still, as 1960 began, Jim Crow remained the law of the land. As a result of utter frustration, groups like the Freedom Riders and the Black Panthers along with leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X decided to step out in society and defend what they knew was right.
During that "youth revolution," many other changes were brought about, including the change from the happy and colorful "swinging" aspect of the early 60's to the new mood of the hippies in the later 60's. These hippies rejected society's values and believed in "dropping out" and refusing to take part in the "rat race" for jobs and money. This group of youths referred to as hippies developed a whole new "counter-culture," which included a minority of the "fake" hippies who merely saw the "counter-culture" as a fashion rather than something they believed in deeply. The group of hippies proclaimed itself an "alternative society," and favored very simple and communal living which included free experimentation with drugs, free experimentation of...

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