June 14, 2024

Summer of Love: Is it Possible to Create a More Loving World?

Love is more than a feeling. It is a conscious decision, and requires practices and skills in order to live it out.

“The challenge that those involved in the Summer of Love ran up against was the reality that loving others who think differently requires more than a desire to change. It requires an entirely new way of thinking about love.” – Shaya Aguilar

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Summer of Love 1967

A gathering at Golden gate Park in San Francisco called the “Human-Be-In” in 1967 – spurred by protests against war – brought young people together with their motto, “turn on, tune in, and drop out.” They were seeking something radically different, but this slogan called young people to “drop out” of society and embrace a life untethered from the stereotypical “American Dream.” During this summer, it was estimated that over 100,000 flooded the streets of the Haight Ashbury District in San Francisco to commence the summer at Golden Gate Park. Students were protesting the war and seeking a more loving world, yet the “Summer of Love” was not all hippies and good vibes. It was a time of racial and political unrest. What began as a counterculture movement ultimately became more about fear, psychedelics, and media than love. By the end of the summer most of the young people had returned home, and the residents of the community that started the movement held a parade called “The Death of the Hippie,” as they mourned how the publicity and focus on their alternate lifestyle had tainted hopes for a countercultural movement.

The 1967 gathering, also known as “The Long Hot Summer,” was part of a bigger conversation. Dr. Martin Luther King gave a speech during this time, “Beyond Vietnam,” which brought societal awareness around the topic of the U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. Dr. King urged the American people to go through “a radical revolution of values” emphasizing love and justice rather than economic nationalism (King, “Beyond Vietnam,” 157). Raised awareness and a call for change was the result of that summer, but the protests didn’t lead to love. The challenge that those involved in the Summer of Love ran up against was the reality that loving others who think differently requires more than a desire to change. It requires an entirely new way of thinking about love and how we love those who think differently than we do. 

Back to the Future

Summer of Love 2024

The protests that led to the Summer of Love in 1967 share some striking similarities to protests at this moment in time. The recent outcries on college campuses echo those of young people in 1967. Universities have long-standing traditions of being places for free speech and civil discourse in times of global crises. Underneath these historical moments where young people attempt to disrupt the status quo is an ache, a longing for peace and wholeness. For many, it was this ache that fed the anti-war protests during the Vietnam War; it is the same ache that motivates many of the participants who protest across the country today. Love is one of the most innate and universal experiences. And yet, it is often very difficult to love others who see the world differently than we do. 

Our yearnings for love, justice, connection, and a willingness to hold the hope that there has to be a better way for humanity continues in spite of our differences. How do we find a path toward justice and shalom?  The Christian faith (as well as other faith traditions that emphasize the importance of loving God, self, and neighbor) provides a source of hope; yet how do we overcome our fears and reactivity? Nearly 57 years following the Summer of Love we are still moved by the Beatles single, “All You Need is Love” released in July, 1967. If we learn anything from history, it is that we cannot ignore this longing for a more just, connected, and loving world.

At the Thrive Center, we are holding hope that a summer of love is upon us. We are not saying this from a place of ignorance or naivety, but because we believe that we can intentionally practice being more loving, even when it is difficult. We can practice love in both big and small ways. Research shows that we can learn to be more patient , compassionate, and regulated – all skills important for our relationships with others.

We can learn to listen well, and we can create space to attend to our needs so that we can be more generous with others. We can give of ourselves with intention, and we can love as a daily practice.  

It is tempting to fall into the mindset that it is just too difficult to choose love. The purpose in looking back at history is not to prove that a more loving world is impossible, but to recognize that if we are going to choose love, it will not be a one time choice, but a way of life. Love is not just a noun; love is also a verb. Love is not something we have, nor a passive emotion we merely feel.  Love involves making decisions to see one another as beloved, and to practice loving others. We have to find our purpose – to respond with love amidst the unrest – instead of waiting for the calm to come.  Looking back to the Summer of Love in 1967 helps me to see the importance of resisting the status quo today. 

The challenge we would like to pose to you this summer is that you love people you do not normally think to love. Further, we invite you to seek out spaces to feel loved and held in return. We know that love can sometimes feel so difficult, but we cannot outrun our desire for love. We cannot outrun the ache, but we can cultivate more space to experience love through small, intentional loving acts toward our neighbors and our communities at large.

What does love look like? 

To explore more about what we mean when we talk about love, we invite you to explore our previous posts:

Defining what we mean by love:
Practices for grief and hope:
Practices for cultivating more authenticity in your relationships:
Practicing forgiveness:

A Practice: Small Acts of Love—An invitation to create and explore

Something you can touch & feel…

“Every time I’m around a group of people, the word that keeps coming up is ‘overwhelmed,’” she said. “It’s so meaningful to lean on poetry right now because it does make you slow down. It does make you breathe.” –Ada Limon (Two-time poet laureate of the United States) 

Poetry is not just for those who consider themselves poetic; poetry is a way to give life to our inner experiences that we might not have the language to communicate verbally. Consider starting a daily or weekly poetry practice. When I first started writing poetry a few years ago, it felt cumbersome. But as more time passed, I started to look forward to quiet moments where I could lose myself in my thoughts. This practice can be a practice of embracing our belovedness as it allows us to tend to our inner worlds and create space to breathe and engage a part of our brain that we might not have the ability to otherwise. Consider taking time to write poetry outside. Find a space in the sunshine and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. Take time to touch and feel the ground beneath your feet and observe your natural environment. Now consider writing about whatever bubbles up for you. Remember that poetry doesn’t have to rhyme, and it doesn’t have to be serious! We realize that many of you are busy parents. Set aside a chunk of time that feels realistic and doable, or try making up rhymes with your kids. Consider starting with just 10-15 minutes every other day. 

Poetry Inspo: Poetry to bring on a hike

Something you can taste & smell…

“I think careful cooking is love, don’t you?” –Julia Child

Everyone knows that food is the way to many people’s hearts. As a young adult without kids, my friends and I recently decided to get creative with cooking. Our plan is that each month we take turns making a dish from a recipe in a cookbook and have a potluck where we share about our experience cooking and enjoy a meal together. This might not be in the cards for families, but if you have young kiddos home for the summer, consider having them choose a recipe that looks good and then have them help you prepare the meal together. It’s not only a great educational opportunity to connect with your kids, it’s a great way to share a skill with them that can then allow them to connect with others. You don’t have to be a chef to do this. Start small and remember that it’s okay if the meal doesn’t turn out amazing, it’s about the process of making the food from start to finish and savoring the moments of connecting with loved ones along the way. 

Recipe Inspo: Summer Recipes

Something you can hear…

“Music can change the world” –Beethoven

Curate a playlist that matches your mood. Consider making a playlist that is nostalgic, one that is upbeat, or one that is soulful. Music has a way of connecting us to memories, places, people and experiences. Consider making music an intentional part of your day and take note of how it makes you feel to listen to your favorite songs this summer, or if you’re really feeling energized, maybe try taking on some song writing of your own. For some inspiration, we’ve curated a playlist of some of our favorites that came out of the “Summer of Love” in 1967

Playlist: Summer of Love 1967



Shaya Aguilar Thrive Fellow / Writer


Continue Exploring


The Balm of Being Loved and Held


Attachment Styles: Why Does Love Sometimes Feel so Difficult? (Part 1)


Forgiveness: What it Means (and What it Doesn’t)

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