Thursday, June 8, 2017

From the Summer of Love to the Winter of Hate

I am lucky to be given the opportunity to close the end-of-school ceremony and on this last day of school, this little talk popped into my head five minutes before I spoke:

Last year at this time, we had just celebrated the 50th anniversary of the school. This year there is another 50th anniversary—the Summer of Love in San Francisco. As we head off into summer, it’s a good phrase to keep in our minds.

It came from a group of people coming of age in those times, people from all different places and backgrounds with one thing in common: the world they were handed was not good enough for them. Too much war and greed and hatred and injustice, too many people chasing after the wrong things and trampling others in the process of getting there. So a new vision began to grow—make love, not war, give peace a chance, people, not profits, do your thing that brings you happiness, come on people, get together and try to love one another right now. 50 years ago we watered the seeds of civil rights and an end to racism, planted new seeds of equal rights for women and accepting and celebrating gay folks and eating healthy food and playing more kinds of music than just Mozart (wonderful as he is) and discovering that God had many names and Buddha, Krishna, Yemaya, Allah were just the tip of the iceberg. We created new schools that understood children and taught them something more than the right answers to questions that they didn’t ask, helped them find the right questions that led to the next question. This very school came from the movement. Slowly and steadily and with the highest hopes and intentions, we began to build that mountain of human health, hope and happiness. And from that struggle, things began to change.

But who could have imagined that 50 years after the Summer of Love, our beloved country would become the Winter of Hate. And now instead of guitars and drums and gentle hugs over on Hippie Hill, there’s a massive, formidable army of bulldozers trying to take down everything we built. Every day we read about another hillside dug up and flowers trampled.

But so far, they’ve left us alone and here we are, in this school of Love, teaching you—and sometimes you teaching us—what it means to live a happy life with care and concern for all living creatures. And we’re doing it! All of us. That’s what we can celebrate at the end of this long, hard year, our determined spirit to keep this work going. We’re sending these 8th graders out with this power and where sending you up to the next level of school where you will discover ever more things about your own power to make beauty and stand up for truth and justice. That’s what we’re here for and isn’t is glorious?

So off you go into summer and may it be a summer of love in all its many forms.

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