Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger a brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing for the world
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
– John Lennon
US history books contain reference to the ‘shot heard round the world’, metaphorically speaking, the shot signifies the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. The shot marked the beginning of a war that freed the American colonies from British tyranny (later to be replaced by our government’s own form of tyranny) I believe this was also the start of the demise of the British empire as the influence of Great Britain slowly receded from the four corners of the earth to the little island cluster on the East side of the Atlantic ocean.
Since the phrase was coined, each generation can point to it’s own shot heard around the world. For those of the early 1900s, that shot killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and plunged Europe into the WWI, the war to end all wars. In the 1940s, that shot was the bombing of Pearl Harbor which subsequently brought the US out of self-imposed isolationism and full bore into the Great War against Japan and the Axis forces.
For those born in the 50s & 60s, that shot occurred on 08 Dec 1980 in New York City outside the entrance of the Dakota apartments when John Lennon was murdered with four bullets in his back. At the time of his death, I was nineteen and a first year college student. When I heard the news, I wept. I wept with millions of others around the globe that had been moved by John’s music and life philosophy. I believe, for many of us, the naiveté of our youth died with John.
For the people of my generation (the Baby Boomers), John was an icon. We adored John, loved his music from the Beatles thru his solo work. Watched with rapt attention his every move. John was a hero well beyond his world changing music. John gave voice to an idealistic youth sick to death of the status quo, sick to death of the horror expressed by our elders in their Vietnam War. John helped us believe that peace was not only a viable alternative to society run amok, but the only viable path for a world bent on destruction.
The music inspired by John Lennon has outlasted the Beatles, outlasted John, and, I believe, will outlast my generation because the thoughts expressed in his lyrics are timeless. His words, ‘No need for greed or hunger’ are poignant in the light of the scandals like Enron that helped plunge the world into a financial crisis. Who among us can’t feel moved by, ‘Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do. No need to kill or die for‘ when confronted by the horror of Afghanistan, Syria, or Sudan or the many other places in which people are being killed by civil wars or drug wars or gang wars.
These thoughts of John came to me today when I stumbled upon Imagine: John Lennon, a documentary on his musical career, while I was flipping the channels. I watched the documentary previously, years ago. It was a beautifully done film. I watched it thinking it would not have same effect on me that it had during previous viewings. But it did.
When the documentary came to the point when John was murdered, I again felt the despair of a beautiful life cut short, felt the pang of my lost youth, felt a haunting in my soul as the scened cut to John playing the white piano in the stark white room while singing ‘Give Peace A Chance’ a song that has become the anthem of my generation with a message tugging at the psyche of every generation since. And when the documentary came to senseless murder the emotion that had been welling up inside me erupted. When John died, I wept.