Summer of Love
Updated: Jul 7, 2020
If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left behind in the '60s, that's his problem. Love and peace are eternal.
Do you remember (or are familiar with) the “Summer of Love?” Hippies, sit-ins, Haight-Ashbury, and flower children? When ‘hip’ terminology consisted of:
“Give peace a chance”
For those of you too young to remember, the Summer of Love was a non-conformist movement and social phenomena, occurring in the summer of 1967. The movement converged in the San Francisco neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury (located near the Golden Gate Park). In 1967, it was ‘the place to be’. Indeed, Haight-Ashbury is considered the birthplace of the hippie counterculture of the 1960's. A lesser known fact-most hippies preferred to be called ‘freaks,’ ‘love children,’ or ‘flower children.’
Personally, I loved the whole vibe (excluding the drugs, LSD, and instances in which free love was a little too-free). From bell-bottom pants, fringed suede vests, any and all peace jewelry, John Lennon, to the unique and frenetic voices of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. As a bit of a rebel, and a spiritual person, I resonated with the movement's non-conformist ‘vibe,’ and emerging spiritual and meditative practices.
The so-called hippies as we know them today are often thought of as tie-dyed, dread-locked vegans who sit around on street corners singing about magic dragons named "Puff."... However, many of them were educated at University of California, Berkley. Most importantly, hippies weren't all air-headed slackers as they are often thought of today.
Why am I writing about the Summer of Love, 1967, in this crazy summer of 2020? Precisely because I see many similarities between the two.
Hippies were an eclectic group, and together, they formed a powerful social movement. The majority of their protests (against the Vietnam War, government, and consumerist values) were nonviolent-consisting of sit-ins, walking through the streets holding signs, and or singing, dancing, or chanting to music that promoted peace. Perhaps “Black Lives Matter” can be equated to a modernist Hippie movement. Both promote social justice, and have been, by and large, peacefully protested. Both encouraged public gatherings of people- often in protest against inhumane practices-speaking out against racism, and encouraging ethnic and cultural tolerance.
Hippies embraced a positive philosophy of loving one’s neighbor, peace, and harmony. Covid, like many crises, causes a shift in heightened compassion, a sense of national unity. How many of us now see signs throughout our neighborhoods with the words “compassion,” “unity,” “love,” and “we stand together,” etc?. This summer finds us using many of the same words uttered in the summer of 1967. I wish our new-found sense of unity was an infinite, rather than crises-driven philosophy!
This blog focuses on extraordinary experiences. Yet, it also explores consciousness and the need to find inner peace. Much like hippie philosophy. And much needed in this crazy, disharmonious, and divisive summer.
Author Skip Stone states that:
Understanding the interdependence of life is seeing beyond the material world; witnessing the dance of energy that is the true nature of the universe. This is called enlightenment. Hippies sought enlightenment in various ways.
Many studied Eastern mysticism. Others explored yoga and/or transcendental meditation (who can forget the Beatles studying TM with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India!). Regardless of their methodology, all sought enlightenment, an understanding of the true nature of reality, and the desire to find inner peace.
Following the Summer of Love, the movement began a gradual decline. Yet, forty-three summers later, we are in the midst of another political, cultural, and additional health, crises. Perhaps we should reflect back on the summer of 1967. On the hippie ideology of peace, acceptance, love, and unity. It might just help us to navigate these uncertain and difficult times.