A few days ago, the small a capella choir at the public high school in which I teach received a special opportunity to showcase their considerable skills. A local television station invited them to sing one selection which was to be telecast. The members of this choir, some of whom I teach, were understandably excited about the opportunity.
We members of the faculty received an e-mail from the choir director to notify us of the time of the broadcast so that we could view the performance. In that communication, the director told us that she had chosen to have the choir perform the John Lennon song Imagine because “we all want peace.”
A couple years ago, a man whose opinions I deeply respect opined that Frank Sinatra’s My Way was the most satanic song in history, because it echoes Satan’s words to God, “Non Serviam (I will not serve).” My opinion is that My Way may be more satanic than Imagine, but I have my doubts.
Obviously, my opinion is not widely shared. Since it was first released in 1971, Imagine has been amazingly popular. The tune is lyrical and wistful, the lyrics promise us “a brotherhood of man.”
However, the process by which Mr. Lennon promised us that this goal would be achieved is troubling, especially if one compares the society that he advocated with the society that has come to pass in the nearly fifty years since the song was written.
At this point, I would like to reprint the entire lyric, but I am informed that that would be a violation of copyright. However, a reader who so wishes can easily find the lyrics on the Internet.
Look at the path that Mr. Lennon says will lead us to “brotherhood.” We are admonished to reject the concepts of Heaven and Hell, religion, nationality, and private property. Look at the development of society since 1971. Increasing numbers of people reject any idea of the afterlife – although many who accept the existence of Heaven reject the possibility of Hell. Legions of “new agers” inform us that they are “spiritual, but not religious.” Even though they will not say it in so many words, one of the two major parties in the United States advocates open borders. In the wake of the Occupy Movement, we hear reports that the young find socialism preferable to capitalism.
All of that notwithstanding, perhaps modern society has most closely followed Mr. Lennon’s admonition that we should live “for today.” The lack of responsibility shown by members of the three generations that have grown up since 1971 can be seen all around us. Stealing is less condemned than getting caught. A young person who acts in a polite way comes as a pleasant surprise. Intimate relations begin and end without any thought of the effect on the partners, the society, or the children that may come to be. Living for today does not tie us in the bands of brotherhood, it abandons us to live lonely lives in a world of selfishness.
John Lennon wants to love while abandoning the God who is the source of all love. His sense of brotherhood is to be found by abandoning the social rules that tie us together. His path to peace spawns constant conflict.
It is time to stop imagining the world of John Lesson’s Imagine.