Groovy: Summer of Love, message of love
Groovy. It’s a word I’ll be using all summer long.It’s my way of paying tribute to the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love. Yes, it was 40 years ago today that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play. Actually, it was 40 years ago last Friday, June 1, 1967, that the Beatles released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in the U.K., commencing a summer that would change everything.For those who are too young, or simply choose not to remember, back in 1967 we were in a place not very different in many respects from the one we are in now. We were engaged in an unpopular war with no way out; we were less than five years removed from a catastrophic national nightmare (the Kennedy assassination); and the Middle East was about to explode in conflict. But there was also an undercurrent of change that ran strong at that time. The youth of America were letting their hair down, and many were listening to the exhortations of Dr. Timothy Leary, who, at the “Be-In” gathering in San Francisco in January 1967, urged people to “tune in, turn on and drop out.” By that summer, tens of thousands of young people were headed to San Francisco and, more specifically, the Haight-Ashbury district, to participate in what they believed would be a the beginning of a new world order based on love. The spirit of that summer gathering had been simmering as an American undercurrent for some time. The basic principles of the youth movement revolved around communal living, free will, free love, and taking care of your fellow man. Drugs, specifically marijuana and LSD, were key components of the new world order, the first because smoking pot was seen as a act of defiance and the second because its use expanded the mind. Or, in some cases, blew it. The Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane and the Quicksilver Messenger Service provided the soundtrack for the happening.Fashion, music, sexual mores, how to organize groups and a society, the mixing of races and genders, technology, the environment, all of these things were affected by the gathering of the tribes during that summer. It was a moment in time.That’s not to say that the Summer of Love was, in and of itself, the focal point of all the change the ’60s begat. Rather, to this day, it serves as a touchstone. The memory of San Francisco in that summer of ’67 reminds us of what power resides in the people when a collective consciousness for good takes over. And that’s a groovy thing.
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