1967 was the Summer of Love. Is 2017 the Summer of Hate?
Guest post by Kennedy Dillinger
A lot can happen in 50 years. Babies are born. Generations die. People get married, then divorced. Empires fall and revolutions rise – and in the thick fog of San Francisco 50 years feels like 50 million as the flower children of yesterday celebrate the anniversary of the greatest summer of their lives.
On the surface, they may seem disconnected from reality and in truth, they’re the only bit of reality we have left.
When you think of The Summer of Love, you might remember drugs and free sex, the songs of the Rolling Stones, peasant dresses (which are definitely making a comeback on the Haight) and marijuana smoke splitting open the sky — what you might not remember is the is the feeling, because, well, none of us ever felt it.
That feeling has been described by many writers over the past 50 years. Some say it was the great wave that will never come again. Others say it was everyone doing everything right and many say it was a complete waste of time, but whatever you believe The Summer of Love was memorable even if you weren’t there.
There are certain images that we can recall though — Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar – a flower in the barrel of a gun.
What images will they conjure up to recreate the summer of 2017?
At the start of the hotter months, there was a rumbling in San Francisco. It wasn’t something reminiscent of 1967. There were no flowers — there was no music and there was no love.
Protesters took to the streets in an effort to make their voices heard bearing signs and megaphones — playing at pop culture and believing in social change while dissenters took to the internet causing chaos in comment sections, and of course, everyone was watching.
We live in an era where a tweet can get you fired, where one mistake can change everything. And yet in the highest office in the land, we have someone whose tweets are infallible. We have someone who no matter what he says he continues to preside over the country. There’s no getting around it – everyone is preoccupied with hate.
In an age where everyone is connected, nothing has felt more disconnected than the summer of 2017, the complete antithesis of The Summer of Love, our dystopian Summer of Hate.
Coming exactly 50 years after The Summer of Love in the exact same place, The Summer of Hate consists of Confederate statues, Nazi salutes, flags burning, crowds waving, nuclear annihilation, mothers being torn from their children, cars being plowed into crowds killing hundreds, university buildings being destroyed amid arguments about free-speech.
These are the images people will remember 50 years from now, as they look back on our great wave of destruction. They will be burned in our minds as our children go off to school. They will haunt us like Richard Nixon in the Rose Garden.
But still, among the rubble, some will notice tiny cracks in the pavement with flowers budding out – these are the voices, the protests, the calls for radical change – THE RESISTANCE. These moments of winning, charging at what’s wrong and making it right may be few and far between but they’ll be remembered, in the footnotes of history books that can only be read on an iPhone.
As far as many are concerned San Francisco is the birthplace of love, the birthplace of freedom, the birthplace of youth, the birthplace of something bigger than hate. We must be bigger than hate.
As the heat becomes cold, and the fog closes in — the summer in San Francisco draws to a close. The weekend approaches – brunch plans are made, but underneath the Instagram posts and the tweets, there is hope. Hope for change, hope for something better, hope that the flowered youth haven’t been lost forever – that they’re growing again, here in the birthplace of love. We’re with them in the streets, with our signs, hell — even with our memes. Culture changes, spirit doesn’t.
We have to think — will this just be the Summer of Hate? Or will it descend into a year of hate, a decade of hate, two decades of hate, or even 50 years of hate? Will our RESISTANCE become a simple declaration that everything is nuclear, and we are all atom bombs ready to explode?
50 years is a long time to think about hate, about politics, about Russian intelligence, about emails, about anything at all.
Can we make this unsteady feeling of chaos and loss of identity go on for more than a summer, or will the raging fire burn out like the summer of love? One can only hope that through the RESISTANCE, through the communication, and the tweets, and the talk of things that make us cry, some of those tears can snuff out the flames.