In the 1960's, young people questioned
America's materialism and cultural and political norms, much as they've
always done. Seeking a better world, some used music, politics,
and alternative lifestyles to create what came to be known as the
counterculture. Americans in that era faced many controversial
issues-from civil rights, the Vietnam War, nuclear arms, and the
environment to drug use, sexual freedom, and nonconformity.
The counterculture lifestyle
integrated many of the ideals and indulgences of the time: peace, love,
harmony, music, mysticism, and religions outside the Judeo-Christian
tradition. Meditation, yoga, and psychedelic drugs were embraced as
routes to expanding one's consciousness.
The movement, greeted with enormous
publicity and popular interest, contributed to changes in American
culture. A willingness to challenge authority, greater social tolerance,
the sense that politics is personal, environmental awareness, and
changes in attitudes about gender roles, marriage, and child rearing are
legacies of the era.
Some children of the sixties
counterculture dropped out and left the cities for the countryside to
experiment with utopian lifestyles. Away from urban problems and
suburban sameness, they built new lives structured around shared
political goals, organic farming, community service, and the longing to
live simply with one's peers.As part of a spiritual reawakening, some
members of the counterculture rejected drug use in favor of mind and
spiritual expansion through yoga, meditation, and chanting.
The Woodstock Music and Art Fair made
history. It was, depending on one's point of view, four days of
generosity, peace, great music, liberation, and expanding consciousness,
or four days of self-indulgence, noise, promiscuity, and illegal drug
Woodstock enabled thousands of
middle-class young people to experience the communal spirit. For the
first time, these young people felt empowered by their numbers.
Politicians and manufacturers in the music and clothing industries took
note of the potential of a growing youth market.A