America in the 1950's
One of the most consequential events to have occurred in recent history was the onset of the world war, particularly the Second World War (which occurred from 1939 to 1945). This is particularly famous for the events that followed its onset, the consequences, and the aftermath. However, this is not in reference to the bombs that were detonated around with pleasure or the results of the bombings. This is in reference to the new bug of emancipation, enlightenment, and liberation that bit the American population. Even then, this post-World War II revolution was not only limited to America. It was widespread all over the world. All the countries that had taken part in the war in one way or another settled on a healing and recovery process. The war had taken a toll on the masses and its influence was still being felt. This called for people to take matters in their own hands and turn the situation around. Some of these changes in perceptions sometimes pitted individuals against societies, communities against nations, and sometimes even leaders against their subjects and vice versa. The resultant effect was that parties pitted against one another, brushed shoulders paving the way for conflict.
One of the consequences of post-World War II that was the hallmark of its aftermath was the liberation of the female gender. American women had for a long time played a second fiddle to their men and had little or no say in matters concerning governance, religion, or even family matters. In the book Feminine Mystique written by Betty Friedan, she presents this general feeling that was slowly, but surely taking effect among the masses. From interviews with her subjects, the issue at hand becomes clear. Women were increasingly becoming aware of their surroundings and the roles they played in the society as a whole. For this reason, their displeasure at the treatment they were being accorded was palpable. After conducting a study among a number of women, the results of the study demonstrated that women were increasingly growing weary and frustrated at being housewives (Friedan, 2013). This is despite the fact that some of them were well able to meet their daily needs and requirements without breaking a sweat. One would be tempted to think that the main reason that can push someone to work is to get a job and improve their living conditions. However, from the experience with this crop of women, it was no longer about the comfort, but there was more to the story than met the eye. More and more American women were finding it uncomfortable to bear the housewife tag and stay at home as men did the rest of the work. In fact, men made all the decisions, including those that directly affected women. As expected, Friedan’s book elicited widespread criticisms and praise alike. The criticism mainly stemmed from the male end of the population who felt that Friedan’s book was misleading. This reaction was not strange. To women, the release of the book marked a big step in the journey towards acquiring a substantial level of independence. Indeed, the book was only a stepping stone in bankrolling a revolution in the feminine world that would see the much talked about gender equality reach its peak (Friedan, 2013).
The World War II triggered the struggle and fight for equality and equal treatment. Most importantly, however, the equality was majorly associated with political and social equivalence. In his book God and Man at Yale, William Buckley takes the reader through the practices at Yale University (which he considered dehumanizing). This particularly refers to the hostility that met the attempt by professors to change their students’ perception of religion and their religious beliefs. Indeed, Buckley openly and vehemently criticizes his professors for their contribution in spreading and advocating for personalized ideologies (Buckley, 1951). This act in essence points to a new beginning. Previously, it was unheard of for students or former students to make accusations leveled at their professors, let alone rebuke them. To make such criticisms in public required extra nerve. Despite the odds being stacked against him, Buckley went ahead and wrote the book and later had it published. This was the mark of a new dawn among Americans. It was not just about William Buckley, but the whole American population. This is inclusive of his admirers and other people who subscribed to his notions and thoughts about the society. Initially, critics saw it as a wrong move that Buckley had made, but when they realized the impact the book had on the rest of the population, they had to rethink their stand. Indeed, the release of the book came with some tense moments, and there is some element of truth in saying that there was a part of the population that did not view the situation the way Buckley did. In this context, they would have reacted differently to the situation. This constituted a conflict between Buckley and his opponents. Even then, Buckley and like-minded individuals stood by their belief and pressed further. Fear was no longer a factor held in high regard, but rather it provided the opportunity for the free thinkers to present their ideas and facts raw and explicitly (Buckley, 1951).
The spread in these potentially radical views and acts was the result of contribution by many factors. To begin with, the American society had made massive gains in the world of socialization and spread and dissemination of information. Over the years, development of various technologically advanced appliances such as the television and radio had made it possible for information to spread far and wide. For this reason, any uprising of any form quickly gained ground and diffused to the rest of the masses. The same thing can be said about the new revolution on the political and social fronts. This means that the spread of information allowed sharing insight between and among people from different walks of life. This statement is further backed by the fact that most of the individuals who directly or indirectly contributed to this uprising were journalists or people in other influential positions. A case example is Betty Friedan who was a journalist. The combined effect of media accessibility and a receptive audience led to the revolution taking off in a manner few anticipated it would. In addition, the position of the United States in the middle of the aftermath of the war provided room for growth of the nation’s economy and with it enlightenment of the masses. After the war, the United States emerged as the superpower. This had various effects. The United States undertook to rebuild the economies of the affected countries, but only after striking profitable deals and agreements. Such deals led to the nation amassing lots of wealth as most, if not all its products had a ready market in the war-torn nations. Americans were economically empowered, and this contributed directly to the new revolutions that were causing conflict between individuals and society. Their buying power was improved, and they could afford to purchase television sets. These were useful in the dissemination of information. Some of these informative items and practices were a major source of wrangles between individuals and society.
The new uprising met its fair share of huddles. As expected, people were resistant to change, and it would take a whole lot of explanation and demonstration to convince some people. The effect was that this new group of free thinkers more often than not found themselves on the receiving end in subjective situations. They, therefore, did not find the going easy. Individual and societal conflict consequently became inevitable and at some point even culminated to full blown conflicts that were sensitive. Nevertheless, in numerous avenues the conflict between individuals and the society only made it possible for the revolution to spread further and more intensely.
In the wake of the end of the World War II, the United States government undertook a rigorous campaign to encourage Americans and the faithful to be more committed to religion (Oakley, 1986). This in essence was meant to be an easy way out of keeping Americans in the dark regarding the events that surrounded the beginning and the end of the World War II. The government of the United States, therefore, saw an opportunity to keep the masses distracted and in the process escaped public scrutiny and rebuke. This was the beginning of the political emancipation and enlightenment. Americans were increasingly growing in awareness about the roles and duties of their government. This further augmented and aggravated the conflict between the society and individuals as the bold-enough to speak their minds often found themselves flowing against the currents. The American population was increasingly becoming diverse and modernized. In this light, not all members of the society shared the same opinion about God, the church, and religion (Oakley, 1986). Such individuals found it hard to blend into the normal setting as they constantly found themselves on the wrong side of events. Most notably was the change in dressing codes, particularly among ladies. Good living standards came with embracing various fashionable trends. These included wearing dresses and attire that was disapproved and looked down upon by members of the society. Such were the major areas that elicited conflict between individuals and society.
Before the 1960s, Americans embraced a culture of conformity in which most of their activities were the same or were related. In essence, their activities and undertakings had a significant level of borrowing. This phenomenon was not only associated with activities, but also with dressing codes and ways of life. Consequently, Americans contributed by and large to each other’s change of taste and desires including clothes. This factor contributed massively to the emergence of the new crop of citizens who wanted to think and do things differently. A few years later, the issue of teenage rebellion started raring its head. Teenagers broke off from the norms and engaged in their own preferred activities. The music they listened to was transformed, and the clothes they wore changed. Intervention by parents only served to make a bad situation worse as such teenagers would go out of hand throwing tantrums and cursing. To cut a long story short, the teenagers would act rebelliously. This did not just bring about conflict between the individual and the society, but was in itself a conflict. To the rest of the population, a growing rebellion towards authority and the government was in the offing. This is especially after some of the dishonorable engagements of the government were brought to light. Rebellion against the government essentially meant being at loggerheads with the society in general.
This is because more and more Americans dropped conformity and substituted it with individualism. In individualism, the person does things as he or she deems fit. The person is also unlikely to act according to societal expectations. Whereas conformity encompassed a larger group and therefore witnessed wider acceptance, the phenomenon of individualism was based on personal satisfaction. This predisposed this new form of perception to disapproval by the rest of the population that did not vouch for it. People no longer strived to act or talk the same as the rest, but rather to be unique in their own right. This was viewed as trendier than the earlier form of conformity. Individualism, therefore, coincided with a period of widespread conflict between the individual and the rest of the community.
The period after the World War II was a time characterized with widespread and life-changing variations in character, behavior, activity, association, and even personality. These variations had a lot of effect on the progress and growth of the American civilization and democracy to what it is today. At the same time, the variations brought with them an unexpected conflict that also went a long way in shaping the destiny of the United States. Some of the incidences and events that led to conflicts between individuals and the society include a natural urge to do things differently and enlightenment. The second factor was decisive in paving the way for questioning events and processes in the society. Others include an uprising in the emancipation of the masses, which was coupled with the onset of technological advancement. Both these factors played a significant role in spreading information and consequently giving a new twist and turn to the conflict. Women were not left behind in the wake of these conflicting ideas and ideologies and had their own uprising in the form of breaking free from the bondage of playing a second fiddle to their male counterparts (Friedan, 2013). The success in achieving this milestone by virtue of a conflict points to the fact that the mention of conflict is not narrowed down to problems only. Solutions also arise from conflict and conflicting ideas.
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