Before I get started with this piece, I would like to clarify that it is an opinion-driven article. Those who have read my previous works on this medium are aware of my affinity towards The Beatles. Today is an important and tragic date in Beatles history. It is also Mother's Day in my native land. For that reason, this article is not only a tribute to John Lennon's life but also to the teachings I have received from my mother throughout my lifetime.
November 2015 was one of the toughest months in recent memory for humanity. December has not had a much better start to it. The November 12 bombings in Beirut and the November 13 Paris attacks quickly come to mind. Those were followed a week later by an attack at a Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali. To cap it all off, a Russian plane was brought down while flying over Turkish airspace on November 24.
The start to December has not been any better. ISIL, the group claiming responsibility for the three November attacks, is suspected of having perpetrated another attack this past Saturday in Chad. There are also the shootings in San Bernardino, California to take into account.
War is unfolding upon our very eyes. Some people have used these events to express messages of fear and hate across the masses. A certain U.S. presidential candidate has expressed his desire to establish a registration system for Muslim citizens and residents if he were to take office. A surprising and scary number of people have demonstrated their support of this idea, which evokes memories of Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. Others have opposed the idea of taking in Syrian refugees running away from the crisis tearing their country apart.
Today is December 8, 2015. Exactly 35 years ago, peace advocate and activist John Lennon suffered a violent death just outside his New York City apartment building. Throughout his life, Lennon fought for world peace using different mediums. One iconic example is his bed-in for peace in Amsterdam shortly after marrying Yoko Ono on March 20, 1969. They lay in bed for a week, calling for peace and rallying against war. It was during this time period that he recorded his classic record "Give Peace a Chance," better known for its simple yet still powerful chorus and cry that gives the tune its title.
Lennon's best known song and one that has an equally strong message calling for peace is "Imagine." I have chosen to offer my personal interpretation Lennon's message for peace that resides in its lyrics.
"Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try"
At first read, it is easy to think that Lennon is asking people to abandon what they believe in, namely religion and while it is true that he later questions the need for organized religion, he is not asking people to abandon it nor criticizing those that believe in it. The true message of this piece of lyrics is simply to not judge people by their religious creed or lack thereof, their cultural beliefs, or their origins. People deserve to be judged only by their own actions and the way they act and behave.
Judging is born from fear, which is born from ignorance. Ignorance in turn leads to hate, which typically inspires violence. This is all counterproductive in the pursuit of peace. In the end, people should be judged on their own actions and the way they behave towards and around other people.
"Imagine there's no countries, it isn't hard to do, no need to kill or die for"
This part of the lyrics is pretty straightforward. Lennon is obviously not calling nor hoping for a separation of all countries in the planet but for people to not judge others, fear them or hate them simply for being from a different country than our own.
In recent months there has been a rise in xenophobia in social media outlets. There have been people calling for the deportation of immigrants to the United States and other developed countries, as well as expressions of fear at the possibility of taking in Syrian refugees. Fear and distrust of immigrants seems to be steadily increasing.
The truth of the matter is, however, that we are all immigrants, be it to the United States or anywhere else in the world. The only people who could maybe lay a claim to not being immigrants are those born, raised, and still living in Africa. It is widely believed, after all, that the first humans appeared in Africa.
With that said, most people who emigrate do not really do so out of a desire to leave their home country of origin and birth, but out of a need to build and create a better life and future for their families and descendants. Those that leave their native countries out of a desire to simply go somewhere else are a lucky minority.
There are few things more difficult than leaving the land you were born in and were raised and educated to love in hopes of finding a better livelihood somewhere else. As is the case with many immigrants all over the world, however, there is really no choice in the matter if they wish to live.
The land of the free and the home of the brave has always prided itself on being a land built by immigrants from its very roots and a melting pot of different cultures. By shutting out immigrants as some have proposed, it runs the risk of potentially depriving some of the most brilliant minds of the future the potential to develop them for the good of the planet and a peaceful future for all.