To the Editor:
For those of us old enough to remember, 50 years ago this summer, a faction of the “boomer” generation brought us the “summer of love” at the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco.
If the summer of 1967 can be remembered as the “summer of love,” the summer of 2017 may be recalled as the “summer of hate.”
A half a century ago, “flower children” streamed into California via mini buses, many carrying nothing but their peace signs. They grew their hair, staged sits-ins and made love not war. Or tried to.
Say what you will about the hippies, their message was one of community and universal tolerance. There was an urgent sense of tribal intimacy to their gathering, albeit outside the parameters of mainstream American norms. Their movement was rightfully blamed for normalizing the use of drugs and indiscriminate promiscuity, both of which resulted in negative effects to our culture.
The movement, however, did succeed in bringing about change to American culture, music and some say to the very fabric of our society. In many ways, their focus on peace and love helped give birth to the antiwar movement, women’s rights and the environmental movement.
Fast forward to 2017 where the summer we are enduring now can only be characterized as one of hate.
Our political parties are so divided that they are paralyzed to move legislation and policy forward. Not only can they not compromise and reach consensus on policy, they can barely tolerate sitting in the same room together. As a politician, if you do not vote with your party, you are a turncoat, regardless of what might be best for your constituents. Among the populace, hyper-partisanship and outright hatred for those whose ideology differs from our own has reached a level arguably not seen since the Civil War era.
As frustration with our politics worsens, the middle class continues to struggle with financial instability and inequality. People are angry and fed up with what they feel is an ineffective and elitist government that pays no attention to them or their plight.
Fueled by the fear of nuclear proliferation and an uncertain global situation, Americans are scared. Too many of us are feeling hopelessly detached from one another and from the balance of security and freedom that democracy is supposed to provide for all of us.
President Donald Trump, if nothing else, has proven with his rhetoric to further contribute to the division that is welling up inside America. While Trump is not at fault for the issue of race in America, nor the dangerous issues we face abroad, he is at fault for the rhetoric of hate that has exacerbated the dangerous divisions among us. The fact that David Duke and the KKK thought that Trump’s election gave them permission to come out of their spider holes is telling. The fact that it took pressure from every faction of our divided nation for Trump to denounce white supremacy is even more telling.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Resisting dominance, dictatorship, violence and racism are what we should hate. Not each other.
We don’t have to hate our own citizens who think differently than we do. And we don’t have to tolerate a president who demonstrates hatred and intolerance for those who oppose his views and policy. Rather than building a wall, perhaps we ought to build a giant mirror that will reflect on what we are becoming. We don’t have to behave this way. It’s much more in our nature as human beings to love than to hate. Maybe we could use a few more “love-ins” to remind us of that.