To everything, turn, turn, turn.
There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to gain, a time to lose.
A time to rend, a time to sow.
A time for love, a time for hate.
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.
The Byrds 1965
In 1967, San Francisco celebrated the Summer of Love, a “renaissance of compassion, awareness, and love, and the revelation of unity for all mankind.” (San Francisco Oracle). Peace loving teenagers flocked to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood to mellow out on free love and illicit drugs. The Fillmore Auditorium brought psychedelic rock to the forefront as bands such as Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead inspired a new generation of non-violent, hippie awareness. Thousands flocked to Golden Gate Park to receive free food, medical treatment, and basic necessities for anyone that needed them.
As I drive along the groovily named Brotherhood Way, I wonder why that spirit of peaceful optimism in 1967 no longer seems possible in S.F. today. The evidence is clear. For one, this metropolitan area notably suffers from the second worst traffic congestion of urban areas in the U.S. today. As I slow to a stop in an angry sea of horn honking gridlock now, traffic congestion tests my patience as I travel into the downtown. It is also noteworthy that a significant portion of the city’s population is considered officially homeless. I ponder the inhumanity of watching destitute people having little success in securing shelter from the cold. With S.F. having a liberal reputation in favor of equal rights for same sex relationships, it makes little sense to me why so many “Elect Trump” signs are displayed near prominent street intersection in adjoining suburbs. Finally, as it has been documented that a high % of the city’s population relocates to S.F. from other countries, I become aghast of reports that white supremacists and Neo-Nazi followers have been reported recently to be perpetrating violent actions against such newcomers in nearby Sacramento.
For a downtown of such exquisite beauty, I wonder why the white population is migrating in historic numbers to outlying communities. As I elect to board the BART Rapid Transit system to escape traffic gridlock to downtown, I wonder why there are so few Caucasian faces that join me today in this time convenient journey. With the average cost of ownership housing in S.F. rising rapidly, I question how the American Dream of owning a home is possible for the vast majority of working families in this city.
I conclude my visit to the “city by the bay” to gaze in awe at the welcoming image of the Golden Gate Bridge. For many newcomers , this international gateway symbolizes a spark of hope that human dignity and equal opportunity will take place for all Turning my attention to the right now, the stark isolation of Alcatraz Island stands in the distance, to remind me that there should be severe consequences for those who contrastingly show bigotry and hatred toward mankind. In a tumultuous election year, perhaps San Francisco can lead America to re-embrace that mellow groove time when a generation came together as one in the Summer of Love of 1967.