Even if many of its participants were impractically idealistic, the memory of the Summer of Love will never be forgotten. Negative media attacks against the Human Be-In and the Summer of Love came immediately, and for decades to follow. Yet nothing could destroy the positive imprint of those seminal first six months of magical cooperation. Now, forty years later, the sanguine memory of those few months has survived, and is being commemorated throughout the world. It is in these memories that the collective human race can once again derive inspiration and hope. Many great thinkers in today’s world believe humanity must now learn how to be of One Mind, more than at any other time in history.
Earth Mandala painted by Michael Bowen 1980
The Human race must do what is necessary to survive the imminent disaster of climate change and planet poisoning, initiated by the same foolish and irrational alcohol-soaked brains that have wired our world with nuclear weapons, thus leading the people of the world to perpetual fear, war, and massive death.
Aquarian Goddess singing the Song of Love carved crystal by Michael Bowen
The grand performance art on that day in 1967, needed no leader then, and no leader is needed now. The Human Be-In created and set into motion an expansion of consciousness change destined to build momentum over the decades that would advance human civilization towards an optimistic future, rather than one filled with fear, paranoia, and loss of personal freedoms. The philosophical essence of the Summer of Love is just that, a deep introspection and understanding of the highest of human emotions, “Love.” Forty years later, the media’s re-examining and celebrating the Summer of Love is stimulating a new generation with a further expansion of existential questioning, and a search for meaning and human dignity that was initiated in the Sixties. The universal message of Love is not an antiquated concern of past saints and sages, or of those who participated in that magical summer of 1967. Our individual and collective appreciation of Love is again manifesting as the next generation struggles with the hatred, violence, greed, religious sectarianism, and corruption that surrounds them. The year 1967, represents a touchstone and a turning point in human evolution. The Human Be-In and the Summer of Love were the historical moments when the counter-culture, and all the beliefs they represented, took center stage and became a lasting, edifying phenomenon.
The philosophical ethos that established the foundation for the Love-generation was the same as the philosophical culture of the Beat-generation that preceded them. The truth-seeking life styles of both generations are founded on the personal freedoms extolled in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and the other brilliant minds that conceived and wrote the United States Constitution, desired a government that would allow freedom of expression and independent thinking. The Constitutional writers were appalled and disgusted by the antiquated and oppressive European governments. This actual living of the Bill of Rights was first exemplified within American society with the North Beach Beat-generation. The beats then morphed into the Haight-Ashbury psychedelic, flower power Love-generation, who were also seeking to live the Bill of Rights. It is the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution that can be called upon to establish the essential philosophical foundation that led to those six months of cooperation immediately following the Human Be-In. The philosophy of “do your own thing” remains with us today, as another way of paraphrasing an individual’s right to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The only difference being, a more mature and responsible attitude has been emphasized in the decades that followed those initial naïve days of 1967.
Sunflower Girl in San Francisco painting by Michael Bowen
The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood attracted youthful energy from all parts of America to live a philosophically new and innovative way of life – a life free from the corruption, brutality, bigotry, and consumerism that permeated the “civilized” world communities, or the “Establishment” as it was commonly referred to by the hippies. The “Hashbury-Hippies”, as they were called by the press, became filled with youthful idealistic visions of living a life of complete freedom and love originally explored by the Beat-generation. They wanted to be “HIP” – they wanted to be aware, wise, and cognizant of all the newest attitudes towards life and the consciousness-changing revolution fermenting in the Haight-Ashbury. Above all, they wanted to feel good and experience the “oceanic” promise of unconditional love. This, after all, is what the Bill of Rights guaranteed them in their pursuit of happiness.
In the fall of 1966, Michael Bowen and Allen Cohen co-authored a document that was used to introduce the Love Pageant Rally on October 6, 1966, the day LSD became illegal. This essay was called A Prophecy of a Declaration of Independence, and it paraphrased an essential conception of the Bill of Rights.
“We hold these experiences to be self-evident, that all is equal, that the creation endows us with certain inalienable rights, that among these are: the freedom of body, the pursuit of joy, and the expansion of consciousness and that to secure these rights, we the citizens of the earth declare our love and compassion for all conflicting hate-carrying men and women of the world.”
Even the current mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, reflects on the Bill of Rights principle of protecting individual freedom of expression and independent thinking in his Proclamation for September 2, 2007 to be the Summer of Love 40th anniversary day in San Francisco:
“Whereas, The Summer of Love stands for these principles: truth and individual freedom, freedom of expression, honoring those who refused to fight yet honoring those who did, creativity, love and respect for all things, honoring our planet by respecting mother earth, and our right to think independently, now
Therefore be it resolved, that I Gavin Newsom, Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco, do hereby officially proclaim Sunday, September 2, 2007 as…
Summer of Love 40th anniversary day in San Francisco !”
Michael Bowen painting “Angel of Morning and Night” center alter painted in Tibetan style in a silk hand made frame for the opening of Avalon Ballroom