Paradigms Do Not Die Easily, But Neither Do Dreams
Near the end of All You Need Is Love, The Beatles added a refrain from an early hit, She Loves You. It sounds like an echo from another decade, another era, but in fact it was only four years between the two songs.
Although the two songs came from the same band in the same decade, they were coming from different worlds. And though both songs have the word love in their title, the difference in meaning could not be greater. In 1963 they were singing about teenage romance, as was everyone. By 1967, love held a psychedelic mixture of meanings. Love was a force powerful enough to change the world. It would end wars, heal wounds, bridge gaps. Learning to love ourselves would help us achieve self-actualization. You can hear in the lyrics and John Lennon’s voice that he is learning to work through childhood trauma in order to release the grip of anger and cynicism that guided his earlier self. There is an undeniable spiritual aspect to the song, as there was to so many of their songs around that time. In The Beatles, and in England, and around the world, something was being born.
“Love Is All You Need.” It was an innocent, naïve proclamation, but it was bold as hell. And surely if you had spoken to any of The Beatles, they would have told you that it was not so much all you need but the most important thing you need, the prime mover. The force that can change the world. In unimaginable ways.
Such a belief led to a movement that put an end to a war and furthered the idea that regardless of race or religion or geographic location we were all connected. We were all brothers and sisters with a shared planet and a shared destiny. And there is nothing naïve or innocent about this realization. It is a fact.
Psychedelic drugs opened up people’s minds to new ways of thinking and shattered old paradigms. Or perhaps the urge to explore new ways of thinking led people to experiment with psychedelics. Children growing up in a world that for the first time included a television in every home sensed the unreality of the narratives they were being sold. They were looking to transcend a plastic world and reconnect with nature and with each other in real and meaningful ways.
But almost as soon as the door opened, it began to close. Powerful existing paradigms do not die easily. They may crack, giving glimpses of what lies beyond them, but they do not easily shatter.
And so the 60’s soon ended. And somewhere, someone asked, “Was it all a dream?” Because truths briefly revealed tend to feel like that when the too solid existing paradigm reasserts it strength.
But dreams have a power of their own. One can never unsee one. A powerful enough dream will have us forever asking ourselves if reality is truly what it seems. A beautiful dream will have us desiring more and being forever discontent with the way things are. The cracks in what we call reality — but is in fact a paradigm — have been exposed and cannot be denied. In fact, they are currently being revealed once more in a far more frightening fashion.
The 60’s were not a dream. They were in fact quite the opposite: they were the first stirrings of a giant awakening. They were like the fantasies of a child which will lay the foundations for the accomplishments of the adult. They were the initial cracks in a paradigm we were destined to outgrow.
We are waking up. Some of us unwillingly, but the possibility of staying asleep no longer exists.
Because what has been glimpsed can never be entirely ignored. Though it may be absent from our conscious mind it nevertheless has been at work in our subconscious. Our dreams have not been soothing, but they have been telling us something.
1967 was the year in which All You Need Is Love was released: It was The Summer Of Love. It was the date of conception for a new paradigm, created in an orgy of love in which an entire generation participated. The gestation time for something so immense is long, but it IS being born. What you are witnessing now are the labor pains.
A new paradigm of love is being born. What was glimpsed in the 60’s was a mere glimmer of something far off. It is time to perceive it now with our adult eyes.