It's hard to believe it's been 29 years since the death of John Lennon. Ironically, this complex man of peace who had a temper as large as all outdoors was shot to death by someone he barely knew.
Michael Jackson's death earlier this year throws this anniversary into stark detail. While Jackson arguably had as much influence over music, particularly American music, as John Lennon and the Beatles had, Lennon outclasses Jackson by a wide margin in his influence over American culture, American politics, and America's image. From the worst, Lennon's persecution at the hands of the Nixon administration, to the best, his ultimate inclusion as the ultimate insider in America, Lennon became a totem for the burgeoning liberal anti-war movement.
And a hero. I confess, my favorite Beatle as a Beatle is Paul McCartney-- he's just do darned cute!-- but my favorite Beatle as a human being and world citizen is John Lennon.
I look around me at the world today, and wonder what John might think? Would he say that we as a people, we as Americans, have backslid? Would we have slid had he been around to be in our faces on the news or on these egregious "talk shows" that pass for open debate? Would he have become so disgusted at Ronald Reagan and the forces of evil that crept across this land over the past thirty years that he would have thrown up his hands and moved to his farm in Delaware County to raise cows (been there, by the way)?
If we could wake him now, what would he say about September 11 and the aftermath? I have a pretty good idea what his opinion would be of George W. Bush and the Iraq war, but would he have been more forgiving on Afghanistan?
What would he say about the current healthcare debate? Would he point out that England has had national health for decades and seem quite happy with it? Would he point out that Jesus would have wept to see the resources of a government used to destroy the lives of its citizens, not heal them?
What would he say about a black American President, besides "it's about bloody time"?
What would he say about the internet, besides it's obvious distortion into a giant shopping mall? Would he approve of the fact that it's bringing billions of people closer together, despite the fact that it's also exposing the inherent hatred of those who fear change? Or would he take note that it still has a long way to go?
Would he have, as a Beatle, used the internet to its fullest ideal, to broadcast a message that billions could respond to in real time, to come together over him and reach out to each other? To see that we share as much in common with the farmer in Katmandu as we do the shopkeeper in Kankakee?
What would he say about technology?
What would he say about global warming? "We are all water from different rivers"?
Imagine if we gave peace a chance...