The Summer of Love: Its Influence and relevance

In 1967 a movement occurred called Summer of love that started as a way to unite against mainstream ideas and power in establishments. It started and grew big in the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood in San Francisco, which became a hippie capital.

Haight-Ashbury in 1967

This summer attracted many people towards an anti-establishment agenda and its impact was so great at the time, it still carries over even to this date with new occupy protests taking it as an inspiration. It showed everyone in the world that there is more than one way of living and opened people’s minds about society as a whole. Unlike today, where we are just a click away from information, back in the day people had no idea about different ideas and ways of living. Even though many people saw this event as an unnecessary gathering, Summer of Love cemented the idea that being different should be celebrated, not looked down upon as it was told in media and school. Some people had concerns about this large group of young people being manipulated by influential figures such as Timothy Leary, a former Harvard professor. His influence was noticeable, creating powerful phrases such as “turn on, tune in, drop out”, which turned people to drop out of schools and pursue a summer full of sex, drugs and intimate community.

People participating were tired of established ways of dressing themselves. At that time, even growing a beard was considered being a “rebel”

These types of gatherings are still happening to this date, as people use it to do passive protests. For instance, there was a similar gathering in Istanbul Turkey in 2013, which was a passive protest to protect a park from being cut down. After the brute force of police against the protesters, thousands of people occupied the park next day after learning about it on social media. We can easily say that media still has a huge impact on countercultural activities, as they are the main means of communication. These thousands of people made a small community to live peacefully in the park. They organised a free library, a free medical center and a free food distribution hut. Even though the gathering turned very nasty with the people with intentions other than just saving the park arrived, it was a peaceful protest at its heart.

Many people from different organisations tried to gain ownership of the protest just to pursue their own agenda and the aftermath was so chaotic that now most people remember just the vandalism part of it.

I see lots of similarities between this movement and summer of love. Haight Ashbury Street also had a clinic and the San Francisco diggers were giving out free food. Many people were skeptical about this movement and the traditional media was lying about what was actually going on there. Still, that movement gave people the courage to rise up and resist against inequalities. Just the fact that we are still talking about summer of love and taking inspirations from it shows us how historically important it is. It wasn’t the first, and within the age of communication, it won’t be the last. Media will continue to lie, and nobody will believe them. Truth has a habit of coming out at the end and history tends to repeat itself.