In October of 1971, just one month after being released on a vinyl album, John Lennon released the song “Imagine” as a single. Although it never achieved the coveted #1 spot on the charts in the U.S.A., it was critically acclaimed, not only as John Lennon’s best song, but as “his greatest gift to mankind.”
John Lennon was a complex and often thoughtful man, but he had his detractors. Few would have described him a conservative, but in October of 1979, expressing sincere concern for police officers who risk their lives for the citizens of NY, John made a significant donation to the police benevolent society for the purchase of bullet proof vests. He should have kept one for himself, for just over a year later he would be assassinated by a mad man simply seeking to impress a Hollywood starlet.
The song “Imagine” appealed to mankind’s emotional yearning for a Utopian dream here on earth. The idea of Utopia is an elusive secular substitute for Heaven and, despite the colossal failures resulting in murder, exploitation and general mayhem associated with every attempt to achieve this Utopian dream, it continues to be a staple of secular leftist philosophies. Because of this history, the Utopian dream’s survival depends on the thoughtlessness of this emotional appeal. Therefore, the reverence afforded to the song must also be thoughtless. Yet it is seldom challenged. I write this piece to challenge this thoughtlessness and to encourage a more well considered approach to mankind’s problems. To his end, I invite you to attend the following, thoughtful autopsy of Imagine in hopes that you never fall for its siren song.
“Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today… Aha-ah..”
It is easy to understand the appeal of “no hell below us.” Ever since we were young children, we recognized the sometimes painful inconvenience of being held responsible for our actions. Additionally, John realized that in order to achieve this goal, we would have to dump the concept of Heaven as well. How many of us are willing to give up the possibility of a personal relationship with a heavenly Creator and access to the wisdom of the universe just for the convenience of irresponsibility. According to John, “it’s easy if you try.” Apparently it takes some effort to deny the universal truth of a Creator to whom we should be eternally grateful.
The capper is the request for us to “Imagine all the people – living for today.” We have seen too many examples of people meandering into an uncertain future totally unprepared for even predictable situations. “Living for today” implies no respect for the wisdom of history and no vision for the future. The cost for this lack of preparedness can be as high as our freedom or our very lives. So yes, I can imagine this. We have seen this play out in wasted hedonistic lives which leave no lasting legacy beyond the general destruction in their wake. How many of us take the time to prepare and plan in any thoughtful way without drifting into some dreamy unsupported Utopian fantasy? Too few I fear.
“Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace… You, ..”
Countries are generally built around culture which gives us language, accent, cuisine, style, a sense of humor, music and many other distinct attributes. Without these distinctions there would not even be fusion. In would just be a mish mash, confusion if you will. Countries are laboratories where different ideas can be explored without imposing the disastrous results on everybody. The best results can be copied and replicated elsewhere. Robert Frost pointed out that “Good fences make good neighbors.” Countries define borders and it is these borders which contain and limit the distinctions between countries. They provide options. My honey had a boss who proclaimed, “It takes all kinds and there are none missing.” Without borders we would be appalled at all who would go missing.
Religion? Well don’t get me started. Every religion has some pedantic obsession which is distracting from the many benefits religion in general provides. Religion teaches people to police themselves. Without this influence, the only way to maintain order would be the police state. Everywhere religion has been prohibited, a police state has resulted.
“Nothing to die for.” Let that sink in. There is nothing to leave your children which is worth your life? No concept, not even the sanctity of life. A life without passion or meaningful significance. What then is the point?
“Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world… You, ..”
I can imagine no possessions. It’s called poverty. Can you truly imagine no hunger when no one possesses a plow or a horse? Doris Lessing, an Iranian born British author, wrote often romanticizing this notion where someone would build a boat and leave it on the shores of a lake for anyone to use. We would all like to have access to a boat on demand, but honestly who is going to all the trouble to build a boat if it is gone when they need it. Civilization is built on mutual respect for property. What would you build if you had no rights to the benefit of your labor? The effort would be pointless. Because we can posses things, a great many beneficial things are produced. Because the cobbler wants a new Ford F150, he makes shoes for you. You may call him greedy for wanting it, but if he did not want it, you would have to make your own shoes. This is the moral component to commerce. In order to prosper, we provide for our neighbors. Was it greedy of you to want the shoes?
“Imagine all the people, sharing all the world.” This assumes there is a world of stuff to be shared. But without effort there is no stuff. So how do you incentivise people to make an effort? You offer them stuff, possessions if you will. The left is always frustrated by this aspect of economics. Socialism is distributive, but gives no thought to production. The only arrow in their quiver is force, we know this as slavery but the word has gone out of favor. The only consistent product of socialist economies is scarcity.
“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 be as one“
When we all become so alike that “the world will be as one,” there will be no need for more than one of us. All but one of us will be irrelevant. That’s when the war will start. The left is constantly declaring their love for diversity while demanding we all conform. We achieve the greatest liberty when we allow for the liberty of others. We achieve the greatest success when we allow for the education only failure can bring. The fewer rules we have, the greater the opportunity for growth. But we know through experience, that with no rules, growth quickly succumbs to the forces of destruction. No dreamy thoughtless Utopia can rectify this. Wisdom demands the lightest regulation to maintain order. The last time I heard “Imagine” and thought it to be beautiful, it was sung in a foreign language. I do not yearn for a world in which nothing is foreign to me.