On John Lennon’s birthday I cannot help but ask myself, “How can I be a better person?” and “How can I make this a better world?” That is one hell of a legacy to leave.
It took me a while to be OK with John Lennon. The Beatles Anthology’s release in the 90s, with the TV miniseries that accompanied it, brought about the type of “phony Beatlemania” that Joe Strummer talks about in London Calling and I think a lot of people on the fringes of my generation were really soured to the Beatles in general because of it. Furthermore, Lennon seemed like some self-indulgent egotist who did too much drugs to me. Mainly, I was annoyed that he overshadowed George Harrison and to some extent Paul McCartney, who, in that order, were my favorite Beatles.
But it is not fair to judge the man by a marketing campaign that took place after his death, nor is it fair to dislike him because I feel a desire to rank the Beatles. The fact of the matter is that John Lennon lived and died for world peace. Now, the word peace turned into a negative word, associated with hippy peaceniks. It became a word for the soft-minded and drug-addled. In fact, the United Nations in the last couple of years started using the word “sustainability” instead of “peace” in most instances, presumably for similar reasons.
Do I need to turn Lennon into a prophet in order to care about him? No. But during a time where he could have just rested on his laurels, he used his success to speak out against injustice, and if you don’t believe he ever shed sweat or tears for the cause of peace, you can be damn sure he shed blood for it.
I’m a dreamer too, John, and like you, I hope I can make those dreams come true.