Thursday, August 19, 2010

John Lennon's Message

I was born in 1980, just 6 months before John Lennon was shot and killed. My parents named me after a Beatles song, and the song that made me really want to play the piano was "Imagine" by John Lennon. Something about the slightly far-away sound of that old upright piano grabbed me. Then the idealistic lyrics come in with that sincere voice of his. When he sang

Imagine There's No Country, 
It isn't hard to do, 
Nothing to Kill or Die for, 
And No Religion, too

I knew what he meant by the sound of his voice. He had this sad sincerity whenever he sang about suffering, and "Imagine" spoke to every one's suffering. Even though I was a religious Catholic kid living in the Bible Belt the first time I heard that, I knew what he meant. Wouldn't it be so wonderful if we were just people

I just saw "The U.S. vs. John Lennon" for the first time, and John Lennon is on my mind a lot now. As a member of Generation Y who was denied the privilege of living in this world with John, I watched those clips of John leading masses of people in singing "All we are saying is give peace a chance" I couldn't help but wonder, where did all those people go? I certainly didn't see them when I was growing up. Why is that? Did so much really change in 1980 when John Lennon died? 

It just doesn't make sense to me. I wonder if the peace activists were just scared. I think I would be too if I had been part of a generation that saw John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lennon die over beliefs that so many people held close to their conscience. 

John Lennon was very brave. He did something that very few people in the public eye ever did. He spoke out for peace, even though it was not really "cool" yet. He saw something wrong, and he stood up. He realized his life was public whether he liked it or not. Why not do something really productive and helpful with that fame? Why not encourage people to just be peaceful? Conservatives laughed at their children for loving such a ridiculous character. They were ridiculed for following John's urgent plea to just be yourself.


The stubborn Baby Boomers continued to carry out this behavior until the 80's. Then... time to grow up. What would a psychologist say about this? From a compassionate perspective, I would guess it had to do with fear. Just like one abused child will grow up and (statistically) will marry into an abusive relationship, have kids, and repeat the cycle of violence. 

Are generations the same way? The Baby Boomers were revolutionary. So what happened?
Well, it's all in the past now. Time has gone by, and perhaps there will be a resurrection of John Lennon's philosophy. Everywhere I go, I see all kinds of beautiful people wearing peace signs, and T-shirts with musical instruments on them with phrases like "Peace Rocks!" In the 80's I felt like a total dork for wearing a peace sign. Maybe John Lennon's style is ready for a flashback. Wouldn't it be so nice if everyone thought peace was cool? Imagine that.

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