A Lesson in Living From John Lennon

The photo you’re looking at is Strawberry Fields, a memorial to John Lennon in Central Park. The building just across the street was his home.

“Imagine” is one of John Lennon’s greatest compositions, and certainly my favourite of all his music. But have you really taken the time to examine his message? I know someone who immediately disagrees with the lyrics when he hears “imagine there’s no heaven.” Yet, by inviting us to imagine there isn’t a heaven, John Lennon is in effect agreeing that there is one. Heaven is after we die, but we’re here today. So look to what his meaning is and imagine for a moment that there is only today, no tomorrow, and nothing after.

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…

John Lennon continues, asking us to further imagine that there are no countries, in other words, no borders, no politics, no war  — things that cause arguments and fights. Not to mention fights over religion. Imagine that there is no religion and that your relationship with Jesus has nothing to do with the institution of the church.

If we had nothing to look forward to or dread after we die, would it change the way we live today? Just for today? Heaven or hell are the consequences of today’s actions. But what if we didn’t have the reward or punishment deferred until after we die? How would that change the way we treat each other? Would we still fight wars, ignore the starving, or tolerate injustice?

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…

And now, what about possessions? If he were to write those lyrics today, perhaps he would have said: “Imagine there’s no iPhones!”  In a society so full of materialism, John Lennon asks us to sit back for a moment and imagine it was different. No greed, no hunger because everyone is sharing instead of grabbing for themselves.

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…

Sharing the world — what a concept! I love the old native saying that we don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

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

So WAS John Lennon a dreamer? Sadly, yes, but it’s a dream that can come true in our own little corner of the world, starting with how we treat those around us. Mother Theresa was once asked how she managed to look after so many. Her answer was “one person at a time.”