Imagine with me – John Lennon’s words are still profound

With the liberating and restrictive decisions reached by the US Supreme Court last week coupled with concerns of those in need around the world, I wanted to honor Independence Day in America for what it truly represents – our freedom to pursue happiness. Yet, our freedoms are collectively bestowed, so your freedoms are just as important as mine. This point is often overshadowed. And, as said in a variety of ways in multiple religious texts, we are told to treat others like we want to be treated. To Jesus, this was the Golden Rule, which I believe is an overarching theme of Christianity as well as other religions.

Yet, I want to step back and use the words of one of the most evocative songs ever written – “Imagine” by John Lennon. These words are very straightforward, which Lennon often did to convey a universal meaning. Just as he did in “Give Peace a Chance” or “All We Need is Love” the following words are simple, yet profound.

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

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, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

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, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

These words are not meant to incite, but because Lennon chose to raise the question of no heaven, they did incite others to skip past the context and key themes therein. But, Lennon’s point is if we erase our borders of beliefs, countries and ownership of things, we can get to a better place. For example, more people have died because of religious differences. Even today, we set up walls around our belief systems that in some cases are designed to exclude, not include. If we look for common ground across these man-made divides, we will find we are not that different.

The same holds true across country borders. Even in the harshest of totalitarian regimes, people want to live in peace, have a roof over the head and be able to provide for their family. If you look around the world, vast numbers of  people in Brazil, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, India, China and US to name only few, do not have the same opportunities that others have. To have the great numbers of people in poverty in my own country is shame, especially when actions are taken that will actually harm these people rather than lift them up. Paraphrasing Gandhi, a community’s greatness is measured in how it takes care of its less fortunate.

I am using Lennon’s words to get everyone to think about our man-induced differences. I am purposeful with the gender use above, as we have man-induced restrictions placed on women’s rights throughout the world and, in many areas, treat women like chattel. Lennon wrote a number of songs on this specific topic as well, but let’s focus today on the overarching message of “Imagine.”  Let’s find common ground. Let’s break down these barriers to finding out how similar we are. Let’s treat others like we want to be treated. And, if we do so, the world would stand a better chance to “live as one.”