Tomorrow is John Lennon's birthday, when he would've turned 70 years old. Can you imagine John at 70? In his short life, Lennon left such a legacy, and not just in the musical world. Today I would like to pay tribute to Lennon and what he means to me.
I was always fascinated by Lennon. I remember in 10th grade we had to write a research paper on someone who changed the world. I chose Lennon, and I got a C, because my teacher said it was a "poor topic choice." Mind you, she had to approve the topic - which is also not to say the paper was not C-worthy for other reasons. However, I thoroughly disagreed with her opinion that Lennon had not changed the world.
As a musician and music lover, I have always been in awe of the way the Beatles changed music. Their catchy melodies, tight harmonies, and their ability to just rock out gave the world countless classic songs that live on generations after they were first played. Lennon certainly made a mark on the world as a member of one of the greatest (arguable THE greatest) band to have ever existed.
However, to simply acknowledge Lennon's musical accomplishments would be only showing one side of this multifaceted man. He was an activist, and especially an activist for peace. And while his activism manifested in many ways, from his lyrics to his "bed-ins" to billboard messages, it is perhaps through his music that his activism best shown through and left the greatest legacy.
It does not do justice to boil Lennon's extensive catalogue down to one song. So much of his music contains deep spiritual, philosophical and political messages, and he was an incredibly gifted songwriter. But for me, Lennon's greatest legacy is "Imagine."
In this simple song, he beautifully captures what a peaceful world would look like. He makes you believe that it's possible, that it's "easy if you try." He places the onus on us - it's easy, and it's up to you to make it a reality. He dares us, "I wonder if you can," almost challenging us to imagine this world with him, and go ahead and make it real.
He proclaims solidarity, reminding us that he's "not the only one," and I imagine that for many people, that song captures their vision as well. He reminds us that we are not alone, and that there are so many others who have this same vision for the world. As I read the Global Campaign for Peace Education newsletter this morning, I reminded of how many people out there are working on peace initiatives, especially through education. It helps to realize that there are millions of people out there working on peace initiatives. Our voices don't attract as much attention as the voices of violence and disorder, which just means we have to speak louder. I am thankful to the PeacexPeace network for giving us an opportunity to make our voices heard.
John Lennon changed the world because he helped us to believe it's possible. He helped us to believe in the possiblity of creating a peaceful world. He didn't have the chance to transform his vision into reality. But we do.
In remembering John Lennon and his legacy, I propose that we honor him by making his imagined world a reality. Like he says, it's simple: nothing to kill or die for, no religion, no countries, no greed, no hunger. Just one world, a brotherhood (sisterhood?). A global neighborhood. Easy, right?
When I look at that list, it looks daunting. Ending violence seems almost easy compared to ending hunger. Though, it shouldn't be so difficult. Statistics show that we produce enough food globally to feed the world. Having spent 2 years in Niger, a chronically undernourished country that is often on the brink of famine, I do not have solid answers for how we can remedy the food crisis.
But while I don't personally have answers, collectively, we can find them. And finding solutions starts by using our imaginations.
Imagine if we invested all of the money that we currently invest in defense and invested it in sustainable solutions to issues such as chronic hunger and poverty? In heath care and education? I am absolutely sure if we changed the way we spend our money, we would find solutions.
Imagine if instead of the US Department of Defense, we had a US Department for Peace
and Justice? Costa Rica
created such a department last year. It is possible. And a movement is underway in the US to create this department.
Imagine if corporate interests were taken out of the electoral equation, and our democracy was truly for the people?
Imagine a world with renewable, sustainable energy sources that do not pollute or damage the environment.
Imagine a world where every child goes to school, and every child has a full belly.
Imagine a world where women do not live in fear of domestic violence.
Imgine a world without weapons - no guns. No bombs. How much safer would we be?
The best tribute I can imagine for John Lennon's birthday is simply that - to imagine the world we want to create, and to then take action to make it a reality. So go on, imagine it. Then take action!