Counter Culture Creates a Platform for Youth To Change the World: Here’s How


Stella Gunn, News Editor

In the face of intense corruption, environmental pollution, and unjust systems of governance, we the youth, have the least say in how these problems are addressed, yet this is the world we must continue on in. The repercussions of the change or lack thereof will most inevitably follow us into adulthood, yet by then will it be too late? When we are driving the car, will there be a road left to follow? Or, is it possible that this very moment is the only one we can change, that currently we are in the midst of a great decision? That restructuring must occur now, on a monumental scale. 

The very proponent which propels our society forward is money. We have seen the data, and science agrees on an universal scale, that climate change is a ticking time bomb. The idea that actual change is not achievable is false; it is just not convenient. It will not make us more money. It will be difficult and, in many ways, we will have to start fresh. However, the world is worth this. It is worth this, but it is not treated like it. There is no longer a discussion of the validity of the subject, but the difficulty of pin-pointing an exact date of no-return makes the issue elusive and far away.

We as a society are too distracted. We are able to separate ourselves from the imminent disaster. We are able to subconsciously accept this knowledge to be true, but continue to do nothing. The very distractions that deliver short-term gratification and keep our attention away from any real thoughts are certainly developed with the intent of keeping us complacent. TikTok, Instagram, Netflix: all of these platforms are like sedatives. They placate us through infinite meaningless content, keeping us painfully unaware of the truth. This first much change. We as a generation must wake up. 

This idea of young people changing the world may come off as naive or performative, yet you needn’t travel far back to see all the times this pursuit brought a true impact to our society. In the 1960’s we saw a generation of youth who did not feel represented or protected by the older generations’ decisions: fighting a war many found meaningless, drafting thousands of young men to risk their lives for a cause they did not support, continuing racism and sexism in many institutions and perpetuating outdated Jim Crow laws, to name a few. This public outrage did not just sit and simmer into hate and resentment but was reworked into a usable passion for change. 

  The creation of universal values within this group of activists helped to create a clear image of the society they wanted to create. These values centered around peace, music, self-expression, individuality, love, equality, spirituality, art, nature, and overall social reconstruction. There were many identities associated with these goals: most notably, the title Hippies. In some cases this label has negative connotations of laziness, substance abuse, and delusional hopes. However, this group simply did not live within the standards of the time. They created a culture that countered all that had been established and rebelled against the governing institutions through many forms of peaceful disobedience. 

One of the most notable examples of such large-scale demonstrations was Woodstock, which was a free concert featuring some of the largest musicians of the time but had the underlying message of protesting The Vietnam War. It took place in the verdant mountains of the Catskills, a small town in Upstate New York. The connection between the natural world, music, and self-expression created a total and natural human freeness. 400,000 young people were able to attend this event and live in complete peace for four days, with no government and no armed security. Even when the overwhelming turn-out foiled all the careful planning of facilities and resources, these people were able to take care of each other, share scarce resources, inspire outside support, and ultimately show the governing generation the vastness of outrage in the youth community, and the ability of that community to join forces and hold a massive amount of influence. This ultimately demonstrated that there is power in numbers and we always must remember this, our ability to organize massive displays. 

So, in applying this to our generation, we can see the steps. We must first create an identity based on shared values, an identity that represents and unifies us. We will not stand strong in the face of all we are up against if we are internally divided. We must understand our goals, our true intentions, our grievances. Believe in our capabilities of achieving all that we strive for. And, finally, we must make ourselves seen and heard. We must be relentless in the face of threats and punishment. We must organize resistance. Walk outs. Hunger strikes. Boycotts. Massive displays of peaceful protests.