TODAY -

Nothing to kill or die for

Kongbrailatpam Rajeshwar Sharma *



In times of turmoil, great men and women of heroic characters emerge from the soil stained with their blood and sweat as Phoenix did out of its own ashes. So do great pieces of literature. Against the backdrop of the American Civil War, Margaret Mitchel wrote Gone with the Wind, a novel that ensnares the hearts and minds of thousands of its readers.

Imagine, an iconic song of peace written and sung by John Lennon , a founding member of The Beatles, sprang from the spoils of the Vietnam War and Cold War of the sixties and early seventies of the last century.

Imagine was a clarion call for peace and unity in the world where religions, colors of the skin, nationalities and wealth divide the people. It is “One of the great world songs with a universal message of hope and love.”

Imagine was so popular and endearing to the people of the world that they honoured it as they did to their national anthems. The former President of the United States of America, Jimmy Carter even said, “In many countries around the world........ ‘Imagine’ used almost equally with national anthems.”

It is said that all the radio stations in France played the song Imagine on 9 November 2001 to honour the victims of the World Trade Center attacks. Imagine is described as “an enduring hymn of solace and promise.”

No song ever gives as much solace and hope to its listeners as Imagine does in a world where hatred and violence reign supreme. In times of violent conflicts with no sign of letting up when people yearn for peace, perhaps Imagine is the only song that can give the people the much-desired love and peace with its challenging, soothing magical lines:
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
.”

Having been shocked and saddened by the My Lai Massacre of the Vietnam War where more than five hundred elderly men, women and children were killed on 16 March 1968 by the American soldiers, people all over the world along with their leaders stood up and called for an immediate end to the war. John Lennon also joined the chorus but in a different manner with his own style of expressing his dismay and hope.

Four years before the fall of Saigon in 1975, John Lennon, inspired by one of the “instructions and drawings” of his wife Yoko Ono, wrote the song Imagine in 1971 one year after the break-up of The Beatles.

She writes,
Imagine the clouds dripping/
Dig a hole in your garden to put them in/
Imagine myself crying and using my tears to make myself stronger

in her book Grapefruit which was published in 1964.

The song Imagine was released in October 1971. It was John Lennon’s best-selling song of his solo career after the break-up with The Beatles. One of the million fans of this song says, “This song always moves me to the core of my heart, although I belong to the 2000’s era, I’d rather choose to listen to classics. And this song is and will forever be one of the best songs down the history of great songs.”

John Lennon wants the people to imagine and create a world where they are not divided by the political boundaries of countries or colours or religions or poverty. He also wishes for a world where there are “no possessions”, and where there is “No need for greed or hunger.”

Not only does John Lennon desire to see the people living without hunger, but he also wants them to share everything they have with the spirit of “a brotherhood of man”.

He appeals to all the people by singing
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.


Although it sounds utopian, he strongly believes that one day all the people will live in peace together. In the last stanza of the song, John Lennon writes,
You, 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 live as one


Imagine is rife with political undertones. Under its “sugar-coated” rhetoric lies a strong political message which is particularly directed towards the political leaders who seem to be quite oblivious of the sufferings of the victims of their pernicious game plan. They often sideline the people and overlook their precarious conditions that persist without any sign of abatement.

The song is not only an appeal to the people, but it is also a “Positive prayer” to their political masters to immediately stop their game plan for the sake of peace and prosperity.


* Kongbrailatpam Rajeshwar Sharma wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a freelancer. You can reach him at sharmarajeshwar36(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on 19 February 2024.



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