2021: Year of the Love-In?

CD Cover of single "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right" by Luther Ingram
photo credit Kevin Dooley CC-2.0

Will 2021 be the 21st century’s year of the love-in? Possibly that’s exactly what we need right now.

As we prepare to emerge from the covid-19 pandemic, wearied by years of increasingly polarized politics and staggered by the enormity of exponentially-increasing climate change, it’s hard to avoid the sober assessment that this has been mere previews of dark times to come. If we are to avert deeper disasters and violent conflict or, failing that, if we are to weather those storms, we must rapidly enact collective healing on a grand scale. I propose love-ins as one of the many interventions that we must undertake in order to achieve that radical healing.

The term love-in has been floating in the air since the 1960s. By the 1980s, when the AIDS epidemic tore through the gay community and Reagan-style conservatism dominated the mainstream, the notion of a love-in felt like a quaint and toothless affectation from the 1960s, a brief moment where young, naive, predominantly white baby boomers rode a wave of American affluence in the aftermath of WWII. This retroactive dismissal of love-ins glosses over the pain and polarized conflict that dominated american life in the 1960s, conflict that especially focused around the civil rights movement and the vietnam war. Love-ins were a radical intervention, an act of collective healing and transformative future-crafting. They arose in response to a gaping wound, invoking love, connectedness, creativity, and open imagination into a cultural space that was dominated by strife and pain. If there was any time that called for this kind of intervention, 2021 is that time.