Today marks what would have been the 74th birthday of John Lennon, the instrumental lead-singer, songwriter and co-founder of the Beatles and just as influential activist, thinker, and dreamer. During a career that spanned 18 years from 1957-1975, and briefly again in 1980, Lennon was the superstar of his day, helping create an untouchable new form of Rock ‘n’ Roll music that crossed two decades and stands the test of time even now–and will for the foreseeable. While admittedly not a perfect man, as he himself acknowledged, particularly during his abusive relationship with first wife Cynthia Lennon (nee Powell), Lennon would later become the Pied-Piper-Protagonist-of-Peace from the late 60s until his death in 1980, having realized violence was not the right path for any, and his own, purpose.
Lennon wasn’t only a great musician but an ideological maverick. Throughout his activist days, controversy followed him. Not because he was doing anything particularly wrong but because his voice went against those of the mainstream at the time (sound familiar?) And as someone constantly in the spotlight, his voice was heard, and heard by many. The best example of this was in March 1969 when Lennon and newly married partner, Yoko Ono, staged a week-long “Bed-In for Peace” protest during their honeymoon to Amsterdam to express their opposition to the ongoing Vietnam War. Quarantining themselves to a hotel room, the pair knew their marriage would be a public event and decided to use the publicity to promote World Peace.
Three months later, the couple staged a second bed-in protest in Montreal, Canada where Lennon wrote the song Give Peace a Chance. The single was soon adopted by the anti-war movement of the time and sung by an approximate crowd of 250,000 people at a demonstration in Washington D.C. later that year in November.
It would take another six years for that war to be over, but as history has made a point of telling us since, despite all the mockery that was sent Lennon’s way, his message, along with the hundreds of thousands of hippies who shared the same opinion, was surely the right one after all when compared to the lost lives–and failed objectives–of the war itself.
“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.”
It’s strange, and yet, on this day, somewhat poetic to think that we could do with a similar message to what Lennon and Yoko strived for then, today. October 9th 2014 is the now and look at what we’re faced with: an ever disparaging economy between the lower and upper classes; street riots between the people and the law enforcement forces who exist(!) to “protect” us; an everlasting war in Middle East; workplace/gender inequality; marriage inequality; you name it. Where did it all go wrong?
Now, although I love my bed, I’m not suggesting we should all grab a camera and film ourselves behind the closed doors of our bedrooms (wink, wink) and send our tapes into the mass media (post-watershed) as a protest to how and why we’ve been led to this mess by the flawed decision makers who control the “system”, but I do think it’s time to wake up and smell the roses (see image above).
Lest we forget, as a public, it is us who should hold accountable those we vote into office, not the other way around. In fact, “they” work for us, a truth I believe can sometimes be forgotten amongst the hyperbole and rhetoric that is shoved down our throats day after day by the mainstream TV networks–who should be held accountable just as much by the way.
Ultimately, no one person on this planet has more of a right to life, and indeed, happiness, than the other, and certainly doesn’t have the right to make another person’s a misery. We’d do well to remember, however, that not everyone is granted even the most basic rights from the get-go, but that shouldn’t mean that those of us in more fortunate positions in society can’t speak up for them either. So while it’s easy to dismiss the essence of Lennon’s message…
“If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliché that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that’s his problem. Love and peace are eternal.”
…as a hippie, liberal and unrealistic notion, especially with what we see happening in the world today, what do you suppose is the counter solution? To continue to accept the hate, discrimination, and suffering we see enacted by our fellow man and woman upon others? Surely not. What an injustice to our intelligence that would be. So what do I say? How about this: Think logically. Question constantly. Act appropriately. Love honestly. Will it change the world? Probably not. But shouldn’t we at least try? Just Imagine if it did.