Stick with love this Valentine's Day
"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."
— Martin Luther King Jr.
He was in front of me in line at Starbucks — that tall bearded man with piercings and tattoos over his body. His belt was a series of chains and his jacket was embroidered with dragons. I instinctively stepped back. Then something amazing happened. He turned around and I saw his red baseball cap with the word LOVE. LOVE! I smiled and then I laughed. When leaving Starbucks, I stopped by his table and told him I liked his hat. He smiled and thanked me. I would never have talked to this intimidating stranger if I hadn't seen his hat. He could have been an ax murderer, but hey this was Starbucks!
This encounter made me think of how all of us judge others by appearance; if people look different from us, we are fearful. What
if everyone wore a LOVE hat?
The Beatles told us in 1967 that all we needed was love. Young people who gathered in San Francisco during the so-called Summer of Love wore flowers in their hair to symbolize peace and love. A 1967 photo in The Washington Star showed a Vietnam War protester placing a carnation into the barrel of a rifle held by a soldier. Long hair was the hippie symbol of new possibilities which rejected discrimination and restrictive gender roles. Older people, especially, rebelled against long hair and were afraid of the changes it represented. It's hard to believe that long hair on men was once not acceptable; although today, in some quarters, long dreadlocks have become an issue.
Eventually the Beatles changed their look from bowl-shaped haircuts and buttoned-up suits to long hair and bell bottoms. John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged a Bed-In celebrating love. The Beatles continued to sing songs that were popular with everyone, and society seemed to begin to embrace differences.
As I look at our polarized society today, I see more than ever our need for peace and love. We have made progress in some areas, but we still have a long way to go. For Valentine's Day tomorrow, I think I will wear flowers in my hair and pass out chocolate hearts on the streets to celebrate love.
Jacquelyn Gatewood is a member of the Jottings group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.
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