In the summer of 1967, a movement generated from the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco evolved into the now famous “Summer of Love.”
I suggest that our current social distancing is the exact opposite of what that Summer of “Love” entailed. And this is not entirely a bad thing.
The form of love that was exalted in that movement was the passionate love known as eros in the language of New Testament Greek. In that same language, three other forms of love are described in different words. But all those words translate to the single English word “love” in modern English — even in the Holy Bible.
This linguistic cluster has created great cultural difficulties. The slogan of the Summer of Love, “Make Love Not War” centered around the notion that the passions involved in destructive acts of war could be more positively channeled through passionate acts of sexual love. So everybody basically took all their clothes off, did a lot of drugs, and thus inaugurated the so-called Sexual Revolution.
The problems that arose from this massive disregard of common sense are obvious. And they linger to this day. What began as “love” morphed into mass jealousy. STD’s were promulgated alongside vicious rumors. Finally, the rate of abortions rose so drastically it propelled a right-wing reaction, pitting those who were “pro-choice” against those who were “pro-life,” in disregard for the realities in which such a toxic dichotomy were rooted.
Now we are faced with an almost opposing challenge. In an atmosphere of social distancing, we will be touching each other much less than before — rather than much more. While this has its own pitfalls, I would suggest that it might also bring unanticipated advantages.
Rather than exult in the false sense of community that spawned a Sixties travesty, let us all turn inward, and reflect in solitude upon our singular purposes, as individuals immersed in a culture that has changed radically overnight.
Maybe this is the time for each of us to get in touch with our own hearts — our own callings — our own life-purposes and destinies. We will serve the community of humanity in a far greater way if we all take some time to reflect, and to find out what each of us — as the unique divinely drafted individuals that we are — is really and truly all about.
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7 thoughts on “The Summer of Love to Come”
This whole effect of this virus on Americans is a huge blessing. Let’s not waste it.
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Amen, Gospel Isosceles.
This is such an excellent post Andy!
As someone who was a young child + then pre-teen during the era you talk of, I have often been aware of the contradictions created by “Free Love” movement. In an eloquent way, you point out here the lack of balance that resulted from this era. And most interestingly, you use the social distancing language of the current Coronavirus situation, to use as a contrast to this era.
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Thanks, Perry. I also lived through this era. It’s an interesting contrast to bear in mind — and, I think, an important one. We have yet to see the effects of social distancing on community. We can be sure, however, its effects will not be those of a past phenomenon that was in many ways its opposite.
This isn’t exactly a comment on your post, but one sentence that made me stop and say – yes! : “… in disregard for the realities in which such a toxic dichotomy were rooted.” **that** is my issue with the pro-choice/pro-life thing in a nutshell.
Now to comment on your post, I think you’re making a good point; it feels like it could be fleshed out a little more, but I think I’m expecting a comparison piece of summer of love vs spring of quarantine based on the introduction, and that’s not fair. We don’t have the history yet for that. Thank you for writing this. I’m hopeful you come back to this thought as time goes on and add more.
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It’s a very short piece, but I submitted it to Spokane Faith & Values as is (after sleeping on it for three days) and Tracy the editor-in-chief said she would publish it as is. I think if I expand on it at all it loses something of a simplicity.
I feel you on the essence of the “toxic dichotomy.” It’s not even a logical dichotomy that would have ever arisen had it not found precedent in the free love movement of the Sixties and beyond. But in our current “sex-positive” society it’s a truth we don’t often like to look at.
Danielle, I overlooked an observation you were making in my earlier reply. I think the first paragraph does read as though I’m headed toward a prediction of the 1967 Summer of Love being simulated in the Summer of 2020. This would conceivably be a reaction to our having suppressed our needs for physical contact for so long. It’s sort of analogous to a drug addict being in rehab throughout the Spring, suddenly getting out in the Summer, and then doing an excess of the drugs he’d been deprived of for three months.
Though I did not develop this theme, it’s not something that hasn’t crossed my mind. We now expect social distancing to be the norm for much longer than a single season, possibly even a year or more. If our quarantine were not lifted until Summer of 2021, the effects of fifteen months’ suppression of our natural need for bodily contact could very well inaugurate a massive orgy that would make the Summer of 1967 look like a double date with chaperones in comparison.
And I have further thoughts, so I’ll soon produce a sequel. We may be headed toward the most massive rebellion in the history of this nation.