Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Summer Of Love

The Summer of Love. 2007, the 40th Anniversary. I have not participated in the festivities. But I was there in 1967.

I remember sitting on a distant hillside in West Covina, California with a couple of friends, and watching my high school class graduate below. Quite a surreal experience. I remained quiet. Just took it all in. They got their diplomas. I eventually received mine in the mail. I left that night for the Haight Ashbury in San Francisco.

The Summer of Love was calling. Don’t know how they got my number, but they did. Had to go. Had to join the parade of flower children and hippy wannabes, in our quest to change the world, or at least to change our place in the world. We hopped aboard the peace train on our pilgrimage to Mecca and made our way as best we could. Crashing in basements of abandoned houses, renting flats, fifteen to a room, sleeping in the park, in parked cars, and in the garages of unsuspecting home owners. Suburban refugees chasing a dream, and following the trails of yesterdays LSD. Everybody wanting to be part of the cultural revolution. Everybody wanting some of the love the movement promised. It’s eventual downfall was that everybody wanted to be loved, but nobody knew that love is really about giving, not getting. Music, drugs, sex, hugs and silly smiles. A formula for peace. What lab did that formula emerge from? The movement eventually died of its own indulgence, though some pretend today that it never went away. And maybe it hasn’t for them. Many of us were lost early on. We were quick to accept the illusion? Shows the depth of anger and disillusionment we felt concerning the establishment. I hugged a lot of strange people, heard a lot of good music, and lost a lot of friends. I knew girls who got raped, kids who got beat up, robbed, burned on drug deals and overdosed on bad drugs. I knew a lot of kids who used to be alive back then, including my best friends, until the scene got hold of them and drowned them like a litter of unwanted puppies in a tub. That’s the part we never hear about the Summer of Love.

But the families of those kids know.
Yeah, they know.

Those who led us into the abyss of narcissism and egocentricity, and the members of my generation who followed, have still never taken responsibility for the devastation the 60’s set in motion, nor have they apologized for the tragic consequences visited upon the lives and culture of the innocent, including subsequent generations who have become the unwitting victims of their parents moral relativism, addictions, and divorce. For this, we as a society continue to suffer.

We thought we found freedom in the 60’s, but we had to close our eyes to believe that. And all the while, the drugs were convincing us that our eyes were finally opened, that we had found the path to enlightenment. Well, that path led to a lasting enlightenment for many. Unfortunately, it was a pseudo-illumination they would never, could never, recover from. We failed to realize that a freedom born entirely of ones own self-indulgence lacks, not only the will, but also the foundation, to sustain itself, eventually feeding upon itself for it’s own survival. With the emergence of ‘group-think’, and the subjugation of one’s own morality to that dynamic, the definition of freedom expands to include any ideology or behavior any member of that group is willing to engage in. The Summer of Love was a Pied Piper for many young, well-meaning idealists, and many are afraid to admit today that they followed a phony musician.

It’s always easier to re-define freedom than to take the time to actually try and understand what true freedom actually is. Human nature is such that it will always push the proverbial ‘line not to be crossed’, further away, to keep it always out in front of us. If we get too close to the line we move it even further again. It’s how we are. If we cross it, we consider the line to be obsolete, and in need of being re-drawn. Always stretching the boundary, enlarging the dimension, until we are lost for lack of an ability to even find a boundary if we need one. The Summer of Love. The 40th Anniversary of the death of our innocence.

It is in family, it is in loving relationships, and it is in generosity that one is truly able to find freedom. It is in that context that freedom will ultimately define itself. It is in considering the greater good, the good of the whole, that one finds goodness, and wholeness, within one’s self.

It is a principal that was missing in the 60’s, and is still missing today in the afterbirth of those times. But it is a principal that pays dividends for those willing to seek, and find, the honesty of its embrace.