Counterculture Actions in a Mainstream Society

Photo by Walter Baxter

By Josh Rueff on May 15, 2013
The black sheep of a community is usually mistaken as a wolf. Structure, rules, and conformity are valuable elements of society because they produce security. Laws keep bad guys from breaking into my house, attacking my family, or damaging my property. Regulations keep big businesses from using their money to keep the little guys out of competition.

All of these reasons and more, are why the social norms of society are accepted and embraced. They create an atmosphere of security that blankets our families and our friends, and comforts everyone beneath it.

When a person fails to conform to the mainstream culture that has been established, that person becomes a black sheep: When rules are broken, safety goes away.

Nature gives many examples of the dangers of resisting structure. The salmon run is one example of security lost through counter culture actions.

In their journey back to their birthplace, the salmon travels up to 1000 miles. Upstream, over dams, climbing waterfalls, and often dying in the attempt to fulfill their purpose. Nature deals murderously with counter culture; the determined salmon is battered by torrential water, losing scales, gaining tears and lacerations from sharp rocks that cut into their skin as they’re hurled from the falls. When they make it over the water falls, the jaws of  bears preparing for hibernation eagerly await them, ripping away skin and flesh to quickly eat the eggs and other nutritious organs before discarding the carcass for another.

Despite the bleak chances the salmon has against the rules of mother nature, he fights through it all. There’s no chance of defeat because he sees only two options; die or finish the race. It’s easy to see nobility in the salmon’s run, but heroics without purpose is vanity, and courage without a cause is mindless bravado.

Nature sets the mainstream in one direction with good reason, man placed the dams with good reason, and the devouring grizzlies kill with good reason.

The salmon fight against the “culture” of man and nature, with good reason.

Their eggs would never survive the brutality of the ocean they live in, so they risk everything to find the safest place they know; their birthplace in the river. 

Sometimes it hurts to be the black sheep, and sometimes it’s necessary.

I find myself contemplating the future of my unborn children: Will the rules I’ve accepted help them or harm them? I know there are things I want to keep them from, parts of my culture I don’t want them to accept; structure that causes more bad than good.

There’s a few societal “structures” that I want to thoroughly consider before passing down cultural norms to my children:

1. The buying mindset: We live in a consumerist economy, so there’s almost an obligation to buy things for the greater good. Even if I feel no obligation, advertisements invade every corner of my private space, a thousand voices telling me to buy, buy, and buy – just a little bit more. The subconscious mind works constantly behind the scenes. Every time I listen to someone, I allow that person or voice to plant something in my conscious, whether I agree with it or not. If I hear something long enough and often enough, I’ll begin to believe it, and that’s why it’s hard to stop buying the things we want, no matter how unnecessary they are.

2. Debt is normal: Today debt is normal, it’s an accepted part of living in a civilized nation; our government is in loads of it! But right now I don’t care about the national debt, I care about the individual’s debt. When I owe my bank money every month, that bank owns a portion of my time; the time I have to spend to earn that money. Beyond that, the bank owns the house or car in my possession until I pay them in full, and they own the right to take it away if I am unable to work for them, that is, earn money to pay them. Debt is Slavery”.

3. Pastimes and hobbies mean television, video games, and the Internet: I have one main problem against this, and that is time spent. Yes, there’s a lot of garbage on TV and the Internet, but there are ways to bypass that, and there’s a lot of good as well. I’m concerned with the amount of time people (children and adults alike) spend indoors in front of a screen. No art or graphics card can properly simulate the beauty of nature, and the joy of being in it.

The health factor is reason for concern as well. people need to be physically active to stay healthy, it’s how the human body functions.

4. Men and women are the same: Here’s a brief moment of insight – They’re not. There’s been a strong push toward sex equality for a long time now, and that’s great, but when the agenda changes to push transgenderism, that’s where I draw my line. If I have a daughter, I won’t push the military on her because I want my sons to protect – they have more testosterone for a reason. The Marine Corps doesn’t allow women into the infantry because women are physically weaker (there’s other reasons too but I don’t need to go into them right now). After serving in 3 combat zones I learned to appreciate that rule. No one likes it but it’s common sense: As much as I respect women and want them to have as much success as their male counterparts, I don’t want a 104 lb girl that can dead-lift a max of 180 lbs trying to fireman carry me, 230 lbs plus with gear, to safety.

With that same common sense it’s wise to choose a woman over a man for jobs like psychological therapy, where sensitivity to body language, heightened communication skills, and the ability to manage various abstract functions without getting tunnel vision is vital to success. Here’s another penetrating perception: Fathers are still better fathers and mothers are still better mothers. Women have a superior brain and chemical composition where nurture, emotion, and multitasking are concerned. Enough on that.

5. You need things to be happy: Let’s be realistic. I do need some things to be happy because running around naked, as liberating as it is, would eventually become a drag. But when I think about every occasion that’s supposed to be happy, it’s surrounded by things. Gift giving on my birthday, chocolate, eggs, and candy on Easter, the mounds of loot on my Christmas. I’m not saying that gifts are bad, but everywhere I turn I’m bombarded by the idea that things buy happiness, and that’s only half true at best.

It would be nice to spend just one week without shoveling a lifetime’s worth of consumerism down my gullet. I think I will.

More importantly though, is what I choose to accept as a part of my life, and what I reject.

6. Animals are more important than people: I’m all about keeping the earth healthy – it’s where I live and I’d like to keep it that way. But when cute animals (The Surinam Toad and the Pig Deer are endangered species but they’re also ugly – no one cares. Panda’s are so fluffy and cuddly…) become more important than humans, I think we’ve taken things a little far.

7. Weapons are evil: This is a harsh reality: Mankind will always need to kill to survive. Even full blown vegans (not the turkey and fish eating ones) have to eat things that have been killed. Plants are alive before we eat them, and so are animals. We eat to survive, kill to eat, and need weapons to kill. Even worse is the necessity to kill other humans. I despise the thought, but there are bad people in the world, and there always will be. It’s a man’s duty to protect his family, and bad people will always have weapons, no matter how many laws ban them. That’s what the black market is for.

8. That society is always right: The people that went on witch hunts and inquisitions during the middle ages were made of the same stuff that we are today. They had the same brain capability with the same aptitude for reason. My parents can tell me about the times when dancing, shooting pool, or playing cards was considered evil by most churches, and some still do! You don’t have to journey very far backwards to observe a time in our nation when slavery was okay, and there are peoples that practice slavery today; during that same period of time society looked down on women’s rights – they couldn’t even vote!

These were products of the society of the time, they were “normal”.

The modern world is desperate for individuality, but there is no such thing without the ability to make decisions apart from society.

Minimalism and all counter culture ideology will be antagonized by something or someone because it goes against the current, but often it’s worth it.



  1. Alex Norris May 15, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    I really liked your example of the Salmon. It’s a perfect picture, and example for your article. Good read.


  2. Nikolai Cramer May 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    I just discovered your site. Good stuff! I look forward to reading more.


  3. Henry S. May 16, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    I completely agree..debt is slavery. It shouldn’t be the “norm.”


    • Josh May 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

      Absolutely shouldn’t be – thanks for the comment Henry!


  4. Survival Sherpa May 29, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Like this, man! There’s a constant squeeze on the individual to fit into the collective. Stay unique my friend. Resist.


    • Josh May 30, 2013 at 9:40 am #

      Hey Todd – Will do!

      Thanks for dropping by – I’m really enjoying your blog by the way; after reading all of the different uses and benefits of honey and coconut oil, I got hooked!

      Have a great one!



      • Survival Sherpa May 30, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

        The simplest stuff works, right? 😉
        So you think you might be interested in doing a guest post on our sight? I’ve written before on minimalism and keeping things simple. I think our folks would really appreciate you!


        • Josh June 3, 2013 at 9:24 am #

          It really does!

          I’d like to, definitely – Just let me know when and how, and thanks! If you’d like to guest post here I’d love that as well, I always enjoy your articles, and I’m sure my readers will too!


  5. greenminimalism June 5, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    Hi Josh

    Nice article. Just gotta say that I disagree with the “men and women are the same point”. You’re generalizing about men and women. Inevitably there are some women who will be able to fireman carry you. There are millions of women who are stronger than men, and there are millions of women who would make better fathers than some men! I don’t think that women should be excluded from the military or even discouraged, just for being women. They should be put through exactly the same physical exam as the men – individual capability should come before gender. That’s what I believe.



    • Josh June 5, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

      Hey Eric, thanks for the points – they’re good ones.

      I see it as a scientific observation more than anything. We classify all of nature into categories, and place generalizations on groups for order and efficiency’s sake. That’s usually a good thing, but admittedly not always.

      I do agree that if a woman can pass the physical requirements put on the men, she should be allowed to fight like the rest of us!

      My main point is that men and women are, as a whole, different. We have different physiological makeup, so it’s natural we have different roles and capabilities.

      Take the Clydesdale horse and a Thoroughbred as a humble example. A (most likely Amish) farmer wouldn’t buy a Thoroughbred to till the ground because it’s physically weaker. Conversely, I wouldn’t place my bets on a Clydesdale to win a race with a Thoroughbred. Can they effictively switch roles? I think it’s possible. But do they generally?

      I believe that women should be free to pursue whatever they please, as should a man, but I don’t agree that men and women are the same, equal in every capacity. Women are better at some things, men at others.
      Out of curiosity, do you believe men and women are equally capable in every aspect?


      • greenminimalism June 5, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

        Hi again Josh

        No, I do believe that there are quite clear biological differences between most men and women. I just don’t like viewing the whole issue through the lens of gender is very helpful, as I believe in a highly individualistic philosophy. ie. I am defined by what *I* can do before you take into consideration my gender, race, etc. I dislike stereotypes because they are as prescriptive as much as they joke about current norms ie if everyone jokes about the Indian that works in the corner shop, the joke itself probably causes more Indians to do just that because it’s societally recognised. So in a way I am against some feminists too who make such a big deal out of gender when I’d like to set gender aside and only consider individuals. Undoutbedly there are millions of women more like you or I than millions of men. This is what I mean.

        I do think that in today’s society men and women are practically capable of doing all the same tasks. Military, and professional sports are some of the few areas where men have a clear advantage. Factors like height probably make as much difference here though as gender does.

        I think gender is made too big a deal of, when other factors like intelligence and social position cause more differences between people than gender does.

        For all these reasons I disagree with your statement “Women are better at some things, men at others.” If you say that men are better at women than tennis, you’re generally right, but you’ll find a female tennis player like Serena Williams who can beat every man in the world except 100 or so. I just think that such generalisations are unhelpful, because it might encourage women to avoid trying in areas like tennis where they are considered ‘worse’, and making the statement is half of the problem.




        • Josh June 5, 2013 at 9:44 pm #


          That’s good stuff. That’s an interesting way to put it – viewing things through lens of gender – that’s actually a pretty thought provoking way to put it.

          I think I do focus quite a bit on gender roles, even when I don’t really want to.

          It’s more a matter of social climate than anything:

          I agree 100% that if a woman (or man for that matter) is looked down on or barred from jobs and careers simply because of his/her gender, that’s poor form and just plain wrong.

          But I highlight gender differences in response to our society’s attempt to neuter the modern man in the push for gender equality.

          Overall equality yes – and if our culture somehow slides back into patriarchal chauvinism I’ll push that issue more, but right now, I’m not worried about women feeling they have to avoid certain occupations because of their gender – I don’t think the modern woman thinks that way.

          It’s men forgetting what it means to be a man – that’s what I’m worried about.




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