All You Need is Love a Half Century Later

An Arizona Sunset

The monsoon has begun here in the Sonoran Desert, and I’ve returned to my roots.  Eight times now, the winds of my restless Gypsy lifestyle have blown me into the land we call Arizona.  The stomping ground of my childhood still smells the same after a summer rain.  Creosote is largely responsible for that unforgettable odor, but I’d guess it gets assistance from abundant palo verde, mesquite, and the usual host of desert suspects.  For a short while, the stink of all mankind’s idiocy and indiscretions is forgotten in a mist of nature’s sweet fragrances.  Baby quail break out of their embryonic shells, hitting the ground running, following the lead of seasoned parents who’ll do what they can to protect them from old owl’s claws and coyote’s jaws.  A fledgling woodpecker tentatively tests her wings, soaring from her lofty nest, pecked into the upper reaches of a two century old saguaro cactus outside my back door.  Summertime and the livin’ is easy.  Easy, that is, if you’re comfortable in temperatures of Fahrenheit 110 and change.

A half century ago, a much younger version of me wandered these streets.  The Summer of Love arrived with flowers in its hair, then split the scene with peace sign held high, the sweet aroma of mota filled the air, hair grew longer, anti-war marchers filled the streets, and songs like “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles gave young hearts hope for a better world.  Whether or not we helped put an end to the crimes of Empire in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia is debatable.  After all, the bombing stopped, but capitalism and free market economics now enslave the working poor populations of those countries, so maybe Nixon and his handlers truly did win the war.  With an end to the Draft, and our sorry asses no longer on the line, my cadres in peace and I put away our love beads and bellbottoms, cut our hair, and joined the minions of our countrymen, in search of the American Dream.

A half century roared past in the blink of an eye.  John Lennon’s lyrics of love were answered by assassination, and his dangerous message seemed to evaporate like a monsoon rain from the potholed streets of Phoenix on a blistering June afternoon.  Love is all you need, love is all you need, love is all…and poof!  Collective amnesia.  Nobody seems to remember that forgotten message from the late ’60s.  Empire now juggles a half dozen and more wars at a time.  Bombing for dollars has become the norm, and nobody even talks about wars any longer.  After all, as my century-old fascist Auntie proudly proclaims:  “War is good for the economy.”  My ancient contemporaries have few interests beyond their immediate financial futures.  Younger folks have been lured into hysterical conversations about gay rights, civil rights, immigrant rights, gun control, and sexual exploitation, but never, never, NEVER do you hear a word about the rights of all those millions of innocent foreigners who’ve been raped, robbed, and turned into hamburger by Wall Street’s Military Killing Force.  In fact, war has become more popular and acceptable than ever, as it is glamorized by video games, heroic bloody movies and television shows, and a fawning, mindless, manipulative, military boot-licking media.

A half century gone, and I’ve gotten old, blotchy, grizzled, and tired.  I’ve joined a few thousand other fans of John Lennon’s message of love, and have written about this crap until I’m blue in the face.  My friend Steve Church was right when he said:  “I can’t simply keyboard a revolution into existence.”  And it appears that revolution isn’t about to happen in the foreseeable future.  Neither because of nor in spite of my efforts.  It seems that Empire has won.  Its citizens have been successfully convinced that war is, in fact, the only way to carry on world business, and there is no longer a debate about the morality of such a system.  To even question the basic motives and goodness of the U.S. Military would be tantamount to treason.  To refuse to stand for the rocket and bomb glorifying national anthem is just about the quickest way to make enemies in this bloody land.  I know this from personal experience.  My country right or wrong, Love it or leave it, God bless our troops, and blah, blah, fucking blah.

A half century ago, I prowled the streets of Phoenix, Arizona, sowing my wild oats.  Now the crop has ripened and fallen to the ground.  Old age arrived unexpectedly and uninvited, carrying with it the gifts of discomfort, heartbreak, disease, loss, and misery.  And now, each evening as I watch the smog-orange sunset over the McDowell Range, the dread of my own mortality has been replaced by the excitement of a new adventure.  What lies beyond Death’s door?  Nothing…or perhaps Paradise?  I’m betting on a long nap, but I’ll try to report back.  And unfortunately, when I’m naught but ash, blowing across Teton glaciers,  I’ll leave behind the one major impediment keeping homo sapiens from understanding that love is all you need.  Love is all you need.  Love is all you need.  WAR!  The very vehicle which wrote the history of mankind.  Will the dirty business of killing so many hundreds of millions of ordinary folks for fun and profit ever end?  Piracy!  The very best pirates in history now wage wars and shadow wars in every corner of this sphere.  A world still controlled by the progeny of the original pirates.

A half century ago I knew so much more than I do today.  I’m now too fucking old to even care to debate the relative advantages and disadvantages of Capitalism and Communism, or to follow the world stage political theatrics.  I’m leaning very strongly toward believing that a final end to war will not come from within the belly of this beast I call home.  Our best hopes lie with the Bear and the Dragon, and I sincerely wish them success in declawing the Eagle without ruffling too many feathers.  And perhaps there’s still hope that homo sapiens will become a less violent and greedy bunch of monkeys, and understand once and for all that love is all you need.  Love is all you need.  Love is all you need.  And to understand once and for all that this amazing blue sphere has more than enough Paradise to share with all.

And “What is Paradise?”  you might be asking.  I only discovered the true meaning recently.  Surprisingly it was printed on a beer can.  And so I leave you with the definition of “Paradise” from a can of Mason Ale Works Cash Imperial Coffee Stout:

“This morning, with her, having coffee.”

All you need is love.  With a large dose of common fucking sense.

John R. Hall, having finally realized that no human being in possession of normal perception has a snowball's chance in hell of changing the course of earth's ongoing trophic avalanche, now studies sorcery with the naguals don Juan Matus and don Carlos Castaneda in the second attention. If you're patient, you might just catch him at his new email address, but if his assemblage point happens to be displaced, it could take a while. That address is: Read other articles by John R..